‘Working day and night’: 11,000 people still in dark following Quebec winter storm

Click to play video: 'Winter storms cause power outages, flight disruptions across Canada'
Winter storms cause power outages, flight disruptions across Canada
Severe winter weather has left tens of thousands of people in Eastern Canada without power, while air travellers are dealing with the stress of mass flight disruptions and lost luggage. Mackenzie Gray looks at the chaos consuming multiple provinces – Dec 27, 2022

After a messy winter storm late last week, Quebec’s utility crews are working to restore power to the thousands of people still in the dark Wednesday.

Hydro-Québec reports more than 11,000 clients still don’t have electricity as of 4:30 p.m., and its teams are “working day and night.” The Quebec City, Côte-Nord and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions are among the hardest-hit areas.

“The challenge is significant: power lines have been downed by uprooted trees. Certain sites are located in remote areas, and repairs, which can be lengthy, may only restore service to a small number of customers,” the public utility wrote on its website. “For these reasons, it is likely that some customers will still be without power for a few days.”

Read more: Canadians still feeling effects from winter storm amid delayed flights, power outages

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The blast of winter weather knocked out power for more than 350,000 people last Friday, just in time for Christmas. A chaotic mix of heavy snow, rain and powerful winds led to school closures, road accidents and travel delays.

Hydro-Québec says power has been restored for about 90 per cent of affected clients to date. The utility has 1,200 field staff working on the problem and teams from stabilized regions have headed to the hardest-hit areas.

“The outages are being on worked on following priority, based on the most clients at the time, while the most urgent situations are also looked after,” the utility wrote in a social media update. “Forty per cent of the remaining outages represent 1 to 5 clients at a time.

“A lot of the incidents we have yet to address also represent an important logistical challenge. We hope to fix most of our clients’ power during the day, but certain cases could be looked after only tomorrow.”

Sophie Brochu, Hydro-Québec’s CEO, said earlier this week that most households should have the lights back on by Wednesday, but she couldn’t promise that all the outages would be fixed by New Year’s Eve.

Read more: Quebec won’t let down thousands still without power after winter storm, premier says

An auditor general’s report in December found Hydro-Québec’s service has become less reliable and that the provincial Crown corporation isn’t fully equipped to handle the challenges of an aging grid.

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But Brochu said that it was extreme weather — not weaknesses in the grid — that caused hundreds of thousands of Quebecers to lose power at the height of the storm that began in the province Dec. 23.

⁠— With files from The Canadian Press

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