Tens of Thousands of Canadians Still in the Dark After Fierce Storm

Tens of Thousands of Canadians Still in the Dark After Fierce Storm
A Hydro Quebec truck is shown in an area without power in Montreal on Dec. 24, 2022. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press
Utility crews in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are still working to restore electricity to thousands of people who have been in the dark for days after last week’s fierce winter storms knocked out their power.
As of Tuesday afternoon, power is still out for more than 32,000 Hydro-Québec customers and more than 16,000 Hydro One customers.
New Brunswick Power has restored electricity to a majority of residents impacted by the storm, which it has said caused one of the largest provincewide outage events of the last 25 years.
The utility’s outage map shows just 152 customers still affected by outages as of Tuesday afternoon.
Hydro-Québec says 87 percent of customers have regained power since the extreme weather started on Friday.

It says it has 1,300 field staff dedicated to restoring power Tuesday and teams from stabilized regions will be sent to work on the hardest-hit areas.

Denis Lavoie, a resident of Quebec’s Laurentians region north of Montreal, says he’s feeling increasingly abandoned after nearly five days without power.
Instead of seeing his children and grandchildren at Christmas, he and his wife stayed home, cooking hamburgers on a propane stove and melting snow so they would have enough water to flush the toilets in their Mont-Tremblant home.
He says the estimated time of repair on Hydro-Québec’s website keeps changing and he’s had to call twice after his home was dropped off the outage map.

Lavoie says he doesn’t understand why power can’t be restored more quickly.

“Outages of 24 or 36 hours, I can understand,“ he says, ”But not 106 hours in winter.”

Lavoie purchased a generator earlier this year which is giving him some electricity, but says he feels Hydro-Québec should reimburse clients for the long outage, which has cost him almost $200 in gasoline and wood so far.

On Monday, Hydro-Québec CEO Sophie Brochu acknowledged customer frustration with the inaccurate estimated timelines on Hydro-Québec’s website, and said crews sometimes discover more problems on they arrive.

Brochu said it was hard to provide a precise estimate for when power would be restored to the customers still affected due to the complexity of the remaining jobs.
While she said the “vast majority” of outages will be resolved by Wednesday, she couldn’t promise that all the lights would be back on by New Year’s Eve.

“Nobody will be forgotten,” she said. “We will have no surrender and no peace until everybody is connected back.”

Premier François Legault said on Twitter that he could understand the frustration of the hydro clients who remained without electricity.

He thanked the Hydro-Québec linesmen and other public sector workers who worked during and after the storm, adding that the utility was doing everything it could to reconnect everyone’s electricity by Wednesday.