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Acadian Peninsula better prepared for power outages 5 years after ice storm crisis

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Caraquet mayor Bernard Thériault says residents of the Acadian Peninsula are better prepared to face power outages almost five years after the 2017 ice storm crisis that left some New Brunswickers without power for weeks.

“This is a consequence of the last ice storm, that people have equipped themselves with generators, they have installed switchboxes on their electrical panels so they can switch to generators,” Thériault said in an interview on Friday.

He added there was more coordination in the community to be ready to help vulnerable residents.

Read more: New Brunswick January ice storm most costly restoration in NB Power’s history

As New Brunswick prepared for a snowstorm on Friday, NB Power crews were sharpening their chainsaws, fuelling trucks and stationing teams in antipation for possible power outages, according to NB Power spokesperson Marc Belliveau, who said New Brunswick’s coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to power outages during snowstorms.

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“In the southern part of the province, in the Bay of Fundy for example, and in the Acadian Peninsula as well, one of the biggest issues is that when the wind blows offshore, they’re very strong and there’s less protection,” he said on Friday.

He said that sea salt was also a factor. “At the very tail end of December in the Lamèque Shippagan causeway area, there were some very large winds, storms and waves causing salt to build up on our insulators on our poles,” Belliveau said.

“So that caused quite a few outages over a period of several days before we could address the situation.”

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He explained that following the ice storm crisis, NB Power replaced some wooden poles with steel poles and that anchor points had been installed in the grid infrastructure to make it more resilient to storms.

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Though the storm on Friday did not cause a significant number of power outages, he said power outages are very hard to predict and encourages New Brunswickers to stock up on food and supplies to prepare for at least 72 hours without power ahead of storms.

He noted New Brunswick’s large density of forests, and how “one degree can make a difference, especially when it comes to snow versus freezing rain.”

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