Newfoundland Power working to restore 5,000 remaining outages after storm
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Monday, March 13, 2017 8:05AM ADT
Last Updated Monday, March 13, 2017 12:21PM ADT
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Power crews continued to tackle outages affecting thousands of customers in eastern Newfoundland Monday after a massive windstorm battered most of the province.
Utility spokeswoman Michele Coughlan said 5,000 customers were still without power early Monday -- a figure down from the 70,000 that were affected at the height of the storm on Saturday.
"We've got all of the main power lines back on," said Coughlan. "So now it really is the individual isolated customers that we are working to restore power to."
She said the remaining pockets include 3,000 customers on the Avalon and Burin Peninsulas and 2,000 in St. John's and surrounding areas.
Coughlan said although cold, weather conditions had stabilized for work crews who battled sustained hurricane force winds over the weekend.
"We had 110 kilometre an hour sustained winds," she said. "For many of our crews who have been through many storms . . . they describe it as being worse than hurricane Igor."
Hurricane Igor hit the southeastern part of the province in September 2010, swamping it with torrents of rain.
Coghlan said damage to electrical infrastructure by Saturday's storm was extensive.
"We had cracked poles, broken cross arms, downed power lines, trees on lines and flying debris into power lines," she said.
Coghlan said the utility hoped to restore power for most of the remaining customers by the end of the day on Monday.
Meanwhile, people were continuing to assess the damage caused by wind gusts of between 140 km/h and 160 km/h that blew through much of province.
Damage evident around St. John's included slate tiles that were blown into an alley 100 metres from a downtown church. Roofs were also partly off several houses and buildings and a home in nearby Torbay had its top floor blown off.
Traffic moved slowly in St. John's on Monday after damage to about 142 traffic lights at 72 intersections. Many intersections were reduced to de facto four-way stops.
St. John's Coun. Danny Breen, chair of the public works committee, said police reported that traffic moved "pretty smoothly" with no major collisions as of 10:30 a.m.
"We did take some precautions," said Breen. "We had a staggered opening of the government offices and the city offices to cut down on the rush hour traffic . . . and we also put a map online with the intersections that are affected."
Breen said the city does have a reserve of about 40 lights as replacements, but the majority would have to be ordered in -- a process expected to take about five days.
He said it was the first time he had seen such extensive wind damage to traffic lights.
"Sometimes you get a heavy wind you might see them let go and dangle, but I've never seen them come down."
The ongoing outages also led to a water conservation order issued for all residents in St. John's, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Portugal Cove-St. Phillips and Conception Bay South. Technical issues at the Bay Bulls Big Pond water treatment facility were cited as the cause.
Eastern Health also closed clinics in Placentia and Trepassey because there was no power.
RCMP also reported that three people from the community of Norman's Cove-Long Cove were taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. A police spokesman said two people were released and a third was still in hospital and expected to make a full recovery.