Nova Scotia Power has launched the biggest pre-storm mobilization in its history, calling in hundreds of line crews from as far away as Quebec ahead of a severe winter storm Thursday.

The utility said Wednesday it is bracing for outages that may last into next week.

“We are expecting serious damage to the system,” said Karen Hutt, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power. “We know that it makes a big, big difference if we can get our crews on the ground throughout the province and get them in a position where as soon as it's safe for them to be out on the ground, they will be.”

Hundreds of line crews and front-line staff will work to get power back online as quickly as possible, according to Hutt. She says crews will begin restoring power as soon as it’s safe to do so, but when winds are gusting above 80 km/h, they have to make on-site assessments of whether to stand down for safety.

Anyone with a generator is advised to keep it handy and full of fuel. Halifax Water is doing just that.

“All our plants, larger plants have backup diesel generators in case there's an area-wide power outage,” says James Campbell, spokesperson for Halifax Water.

Halifax Fire is reminding people to keep generators in well-ventilated areas outside.

For fire crews and Halifax Regional Police, it will business as usual tomorrow. Both are working with the provincial Emergency Management Office, which has some advice for those in the storm's path.

“Make sure they have a plan in place for their family, they have their 72-hour kit,” says Jason Mew, director of provincial operations for EMO.

With this storm expected to be followed by very cold temperatures, Nova Scotia Power has decided to open comfort centres in Kentville, Chester, Stellarton and Shelburne at 8 a.m. Thursday.

EMO is opening its Provincial Coordination Centre Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.