Hundreds of thousands of Ontario residents are experiencing power outages as a result of an ice storm wreaking havoc across the lower half of the province. According to Hydro One, 104,000 customers remain without power, down from 120,000 Monday afternoon, as crews worked across several districts to restore electricity to households.
Several safety bodies, including the Electrical Safety Authority of Ontario, warned residents that the icy weather may bring down wires and trees, contributing to the outages.
For the past few days, Hydro One has been working to restore power to several Ontario districts, but continue to see new outages crop up. On Saturday, Hydro One stated that the outages had affected just 7,000 customers across the province, a number that increased by almost 100,000 people by Monday.
According to Toronto Hydro, approximately 8,300 people remained without power in the city at the time this story was published. The company also echoed Hydro One’s warning, saying that as they worked to bring customers back on, new outages continued to pop up across the system.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to restore power around the city. The storm was a disastrous combination of weather events across southern Ontario and caused extensive damage to trees, property and our system. We’re focusing our efforts on restoring areas that will bring on the most customers the fastest with safety as our top priority,” said Ben LaPianta, an executive vice-president with Toronto Hydro, in a statement.
At the storm’s peak, it had knocked out power to 44,000 people across Toronto alone, and 43,000 people across Ottawa. By 4 p.m., Hydro Ottawa reported that just 26,000 people remained without power in the area.
Provincial power utility Hydro One said its crews were working to reconnect more than 100,000 customers affected by nearly 670 outages, while Toronto Hydro said the number of customers in the dark had shrunk to about 8,000 from about 40,000.
Hydro One said in a statement released Sunday confirming that over 350 resources staff (line maintainers, foresters, support staff and technicians) had been mobilized across southern Ontario and about 500 had been placed on standby province-wide, in preparation for the storm.
“Crews have been working around the clock to restore power to our customers. We know that electricity is a lifeline for many families in the winter – especially for those who depend on electric heat. It’s all hands on deck until every last customer has their power back,” said chief operating officer Greg Kiraly.
The company advised customers to keep several items on hand in case of a blackout. These included, windup or battery-powered flashlight, windup or battery-powered radio, batteries for your flashlight and radio, water (about two litres per person), canned or dried food that won’t spoil, cash, medical items, blankets, candles and matches, a first-aid kit and portable chargers for cellphones.
Hydro companies are warning customers to stay away from fallen trees and downed wires, and to report these incidents immediately. To report incidents like these to Hydro One, Ontario residents can call: 1-800-434-1235
— With a file from The Canadian Press