Nova Scotia Power still working to restore electricity to thousands after Christmas storm

WATCH: Crews are working around the clock to restore power to thousands of Nova Scotians who were left in the dark following a storm on Christmas Day. Natasha Pace reports.

Nova Scotia Power (NSP) continues work to reconnect power to thousands of people who are still in the dark across the province. By Wednesday afternoon, all but about 4,000 customers had their power restored.

On Christmas Day, a powerful storm made its way across the region and brought hurricane-force wind gusts.  NSP says 158,000 customers lost electricity in Monday’s storm.

“Living in Nova Scotia, we’re used to weather but there’s no question this has been a severe storm just in terms of the wind intensity and how long it stayed on the system,” said Nova Scotia Power CEO Karen Hutt.

“It didn’t help when we had another round of wind come through last night. When you’re dealing with the kind of intensity of those winds, then the system just can’t withhold that.”

Restoration times pushed back

NSP says the storm caused a significant impact to their electricity system and that crews are finding severe damage, which is taking longer to repairs along western Nova Scotia and the province’s South Shore.

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“In Cape Breton, we are dealing with hazardous, icy roads. This has forced us to push back some of our estimated restoration times,” said Steve Pothier, who leads NSP’s storm response, in a news release.

For customers who lost their electricity during the Christmas storm and remain without power, NSP says the estimated restoration times have moved from Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. until Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. For smaller outages which are impacting 10 or fewer customers, the restoration time has extended until Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

High winds continue to impact Nova Scotia. In fact, an additional 1,800 customers have lost power since Boxing Day. NSP says those people can expect to have power restored by Thursday at 11:30 p.m.

“We’re going as fast as we can. We know that isn’t necessarily what the customers who still don’t have power want to hear but we are doing our very best,” said Hutt.

“There is extensive damage, it’s taking longer to repair. The cold weather is certainly not helping so there’s challenging conditions that they’re facing so we’ve got all possible resources on it to try to act as quickly as we can.”

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READ: Nova Scotia Power continues to restore electricity as temperatures plunge

More than 700 people working around the clock to restore power

More than 700 people are working to restore power in the province, including 450 frontline workers. NSP has also contracted crews from New Brunswick to help in the restoration efforts and say work will not stop until all customers have their power back.

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Greg MacKinnon lives in Second Pensinsula, N.S. and has been without power since Christmas Day.

“We’re getting a little tired of the camping, I have to tell you,” he said.

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“Luckily. we have a generator and on the first evening, through the evening, we left everything closed up, refrigerators, freezers and everything. We thought perhaps the power might come on by the morning but when it didn’t, we have a generator that we coaxed to work.”

In the last two days, MacKinnon says he has spent about $125 to keep his generator running and his home warm. Despite the inconvenience of being without electricity, he says he is grateful for those working to restore power.

“I really appreciate the fact folks have gone out in this weather because it’s still quite breezy and going up poles. It’s dangerous work, so I’m really patient you know. I know the work that they do is tough,” he said.

Hutt says crews are doing a “fantastic job.”

“We have about 185 power line technician crews, so think of those as two-person crews. We have all available crews from a Nova Scotia perspective and overflow crews from the Maritimes and we’re doing whatever we can to support those folks. We have runners bringing them out coffee and food and making sure that we give them the break that they need to be able to go out and restore power, obviously in the safest of ways,” she said.

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READ MORE: Crews working around the clock to restore power to Nova Scotians after Christmas storm

Tree falls on fire department that opened as comfort centre 

Kathy Damiani and her family also lost electricity at her home in Indian Point, N.S. on Christmas Day. Fortunately, she was able to bring her meal to the local fire hall to continue cooking it.

“The power went out about [3:40 p.m.] on Christmas Day when we were making Christmas dinner. So we hauled our food out of the oven, brought it down here, continued cooking it here, played a few rounds of UNO,” said Damiani.

“Our plan was to stay home and eat and drink and enjoy ourselves, so we just moved the party down to the hall.”

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The fire hall has been opened up as a comfort centre for those in the community without power. Residents are able to pop in to get some food, water or to use the power to charge electronic devices.

While Damiani was preparing her meal, a large tree fell over and landed on the fire hall. Power is still on at the building.

It’s expected the tree will be removed by crews in the coming days.

WATCH: Strong winds hit Nova Scotia on Christmas Day, leaving a path of debris

Crews working around the clock to restore power to Nova Scotians after Christmas storm
Crews working around the clock to restore power to Nova Scotians after Christmas storm

Call an electrician first if electrical equipment damaged in storm

NSP says they cannot restore power to customers who sustained damage to their electrical equipment until they have an electrician make repairs. For customers who haven’t been able to find an electrician, a list of electricians who are prepared to help can be found by clicking here.

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Officials say although the storm has passed, weakened trees may still fall onto power lines and cause outages. Anyone who sees a downed line or wants to report a power outage can call Nova Scotia Power at 1-877-428-6004.

Up-to-date information on restoration times can be found by checking the NSP outage map.

Comfort Centres opened by NSP

NSP says they are “extremely concerned” about customers being without power during the “bitter temperatures” which are in the forecast for Wednesday night.

The utility has opened community depots in Shelburne, Kentville, Stellarton, and Chester to serve as comfort centres for anyone who needs a place to warm up or recharge their phones.

The centres are open from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Kentville — 3 Calkin Drive
  • Chester — 96 Valley Road
  • Stellarton — 26 Bridge Avenue
  • Shelburne — 261 Ohio Road