PEI

Fewer than 600 homes and businesses on P.E.I. without power 19 days after Fiona

Maritime Electric, P.E.I.’s main electrical utility, continued the hard slog of restoring mostly individual power outages on Tuesday, returning power to about 600 customers 19 days after Fiona knocked it out.

‘We don’t have eyes on all of these customers’

Tree down on house.
Almost three weeks after the storm crews are just getting started on cleaning up some areas. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Maritime Electric, P.E.I.'s main electrical utility, continued the hard slog of restoring mostly individual power outages on Wednesday, 19 days after Fiona knocked out power for the whole province. 

According to the outage map on the utility's website, as of 8 p.m. Wednesday, fewer than 600 customers were still waiting to have their power restored.

Val Shaffer is one of those still waiting for her home to be reconnected. She lives in North Rustico and said crews with Maritime Electric have been out to her property to check on her, but it could still be days before her power is restored.

She said as the days carry on, she's trying to focus on new ways to stay positive. 

"We know our budget would have to change to pay for the gas, you can't watch TV late at night. You've sort of got to change everything around but at the same time that sort of gave us an opportunity," Shaffer said. 

"You know how they say 21 days you can start some new really good habits? So we're going to bed early, getting up early, going for walks, getting out taking pictures, just basically being thankful that sure we have no power but at least we're able to carry on."

North Rustico resident Val Shaffer says Maritime Electric crews have checked on her property and it could still be days before her power is restored. (Ken Linton/CBC)

There are still some line outages that the utility is dealing with. Two of the larger outages, in Dingwells Mills and Lewes, were restored Tuesday.

In some instances crews are seeing the damage at repair sites for the first time this week, said Maritime Electric spokesperson Kim Griffin, and the damage is worse than expected.

"We don't have eyes on all of these customers. We have descriptions from some of these customers," Griffin told CBC News Tuesday.

"Today, as the crews were working to get power on [for] some of these customers, was the first time they've seen them. We have customers that we were talking to today and tomorrow that we're even having issues getting access down their private roads for example. So these customers at the end of the road, up until now until Friday, are going to take the longest."

She said crews attempted to assess damage in the first two days after the storm, but because some areas were inaccessible it wasn't always possible to make an accurate assessment.

The goal is still to get most of the remaining households back online by Friday, said Griffin.

'As much scrutiny … as needed'

Premier Dennis King says he is open to holding a public inquiry into the government's response to Fiona.

The province simply wasn't prepared for the level of destruction caused by the storm, said King.

The latest on the Fiona recovery effort

4 months ago
Duration 5:34
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King speaks with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin on what's being done, and what could be done in the future.

"This has been the most catastrophic thing we've ever dealt with, so we'll have a deep dive on this," said King.

"We'll certainly have as much scrutiny on this as needed so we can learn from it and hopefully be even better prepared the next time."

King said he wouldn't be surprised if the cost of all damages caused by Fiona reach half a billion dollars on P.E.I. alone.

Opposition says financial relief too complicated

Meanwhile, the leader of P.E.I.'s Official Opposition party said the process to apply for Fiona relief from the province, is needlessly complicated and onerous. 

Peter Bevan-Baker said the province should have worked more closely with the Red Cross to ensure it was easier for Islanders to get help, and much more quickly.

He said he thinks there was a delay in recognizing the urgency of the situation and the Red Cross became involved too late. 

"When they did commandeer Canadian Red Cross to manage this program and distribute provincial funds they have not been — as far as I can tell — really good partners in providing the data that the Red Cross requires," Bevan-Baker said.

"I think there are things that government could have done up front and I think there are things that government could and should be doing right now to aid Red Cross in making this happen in a more equitable and efficient way."

Many people who have yet to receive a $250 payment from the province through the Red Cross have spent long hours waiting in line at reception centres to validate their identification and get their money.

There are now three Red Cross locations set up across the Island for people to visit to get help:

  • Charlottetown at the Confederation Court Mall from Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Montague at the Montague Curling Club Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m, except on Thursday when the hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Summerside at the County Fair Mall Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

With files from CBC News: Compass

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