Hydro One transmission towers hit with extensive damage in Ottawa

Hydro One says there are “completely devastated” areas around Ottawa including towers severely damaged near the Hunt Club exit to Highway 417.

'Completely devastated' areas include towers near Hunt Club exit of Hwy. 417

One of four damaged Hydro One transmission towers in the Ottawa area that needs to be repaired or replaced following a heavy weekend storm. (CBC)

Hydro One showed the damage to three of its transmission towers near Ottawa on Tuesday, saying it will take "several days" to fully restore power to customers.

The towers, near Hunt Club Road and Highway 417, were severely damaged by the storm system that struck large swaths of the province Saturday. Two were completely torn down and a third had pieces of it ripped off by heavy winds. All three were still out of operation on Tuesday. 

In the Ottawa area, there are four damaged transmission towers that need to be repaired or replaced following the storm, according to the company. In total, there are five transmission towers that move power from generators to the distribution systems feeding customers around the city, according to Hydro One. 

"From our crews and people who have been with our company for decades, they're saying this is one of the worst events they've had to deal with, both on the transmission side and … on the local distribution side,as well," said Jason Fitzsimmons, chief of corporate affairs for Hydro One.

 According to Fitzsimmons, the greater Ottawa region was one of the areas crews converged on after the storm.

He said some areas are "completely devastated" and described power poles looking as if they had been cut in half.

Around 27,000 Hydro One customers in the greater Ottawa area are dealing with "pretty extensive damage," he added.

"We anticipate it's going to be several days before we get everyone back up and running," Fitzsimmons said. 

It's expected more regional-specific updates will become available at some point Tuesday. 

WATCH | Days until Hydro One customers get power back:

Still ‘several days’ before power restored for some Hydro One customers

3 months ago
Duration 0:48
Jason Fitzimmons, chief corporate affairs and customer care officer for Hydro One, says the extent of the damage and the complexity of the repairs will leave some customers without power for several days to come.

Damage 'more complex' than previous weather events

Damage from Saturday's storm was different than the ice storm and tornadoes that have previously struck the region, Fitzsimmons said.

"It's a combination of the severity, the locations across the province, and then just the time that it's going to take to rebuild, bearing in mind the safety of the public and our employees as well," he said. 

Crews from around the province and elsewhere, including the United States, have been brought in to assist in the repair.

Matt Martin, a senior foreperson with Hydro One working to repair the towers, said the crews "found their breaking point" and are working as quick as possible while still maintaining a safe work environment. 

"It's definitely been challenging. We work long hours when we get the call for storm restoration. We are normally at home with our families," he said.

"A lot of people have to pack up and head for work. At that time, we start 16-hour shifts."

Fitzsimmons said Hydro One continually makes investments to deal with "the reality of greater impact from storm activity resulting from climate change," as much of the Hydro One system operating around Ottawa was built in the 1950s.

"That's everything from taller poles, putting equipment in doors as opposed to being outdoors in some of our stations, and really taking advantage of new technologies as they become available," he said of the updates.

Heavy machinery is being used to remove debris from certain sites, including at the transmission towers.

Ottawa residents survey storm's damage to homes and streets

3 months ago
Duration 2:56
Residents and crews in the Ottawa-Gatineau region worked to clean up the damage from Saturday's devastating wind storm, as city officials warned Tuesday the effort is expected to take weeks.

With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan


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