Thousands still without power as post-tropical storm Lee exits Maritimes

Click to play video: 'Post-tropical cyclone Lee: Maritimers avoid the worst after storm sweeps through Canada’s East Coast'
Post-tropical cyclone Lee: Maritimers avoid the worst after storm sweeps through Canada’s East Coast
WATCH: In Atlantic Canada, crews are now working on power restoration and clean-up after post-tropical cyclone Lee made landfall Saturday. The storm brought fierce winds and heavy rain, at one point knocking out power for more than 200,000 people between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. But as Callum Smith reports, it didn’t cause the widespread damage some had feared – Sep 17, 2023

Thousands of Maritime residents are still without power Sunday morning as post-tropical storm Lee makes its way out of the region and into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

As of 6 p.m., Nova Scotia Power was reporting more than 33,000 customers were still without power, and NB Power was reporting over 3,000 customers in the dark.

“This morning, our day crews are back out across the province assessing damage, removing trees from lines and repairing equipment,” read a social media post from Nova Scotia Power.

The electrical utility said about 277,000 customers experienced outages since the storm’s arrival.

“Crews were able to restore power to approximately 170,000 customers and we expect to get a significant amount more back on today,” the statement said.

“Damage from the tropical storm force winds and heavy rain ranges from broken power poles and uprooted trees, to downed power lines, localized flooding, and road closures.”

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Nova Scotia Power has begun operating helicopters and drones throughout the province to assist with damage assessment during their restoration process.

Matt Drover, storm lead for Nova Scotia Power, said despite not having an estimate for full restoration, a “significant” number of customers should regain power on Sunday.

“Our goal (to restore power) is as soon as possible, we know how impactful this is for everybody, we’re working around the clock,” he said during an interview with Global News, adding that more than 800 employees are currently working to restore power throughout the province.

“We know it will be a few days … however, we will see a significant number restored today. Tomorrow will be a big day as well.”

Drover said when mass power outages occur, Nova Scotia Power prioritizes responding to bigger outages that impact the highest number of customers and then begin to work through smaller communities, streets, and then individual customers that are still without electricity.

“That’ll be where we are towards the end of day tomorrow,” Drover said, referring to the outages that have impacted the lowest number of customers.

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On Sunday, Eastlink, a telecommunications company that provides internet to thousands of customers throughout Nova Scotia, said they’ve experienced service interruptions in areas with significant power disruptions such as Bridgewater, Lunenburg, and parts of Halifax.

“With the return of power, removal of hazards like downed trees, and clearance to access affected sites, our crews will be able to get affected customers back up and running,” said Jill Laing, director of Eastlink’s public affairs.

“The weather today will help everyone’s efforts immensely as we accelerate repair and restoration efforts.”

A noon update from Environment Canada said conditions are continuing to improve in many areas of the Maritimes after wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres were recorded earlier on Sunday in Cape Breton and along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.

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“The low is passing northwest of Iles-de-la-Madeleine and will reach northern Newfoundland this evening,” the update read.

“Lee is continuing to weaken as it moves northeast.”

The weather agency has since ended their tropical storm warnings for the Maritimes — including wind and rainfall warnings for the region, as per a 3 p.m. update on Sunday afternoon. Although rainfall warnings remain in effect for portions of the Quebec Lower North Shore, with precipitation expected to end on Saturday night.

“Being such a large storm, some areas are going to feel the winds from this for a few hours to come … but certainly not as strong as it was when it approached the Maritimes so it will continue to weaken,” Bob Robichaud of the Canadian Hurricane Centre said Sunday.

Meanwhile, Robichaud said Lee held no surprises for forecasters.

“What we were predicting was a strong tropical or post-tropical storm and that’s exactly what we got,” he said. “We got winds of over 100 kilometres per hour, but just below hurricane strength.”

Rainfall in amounts of 100 millimetres were reported on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, which is located in the Bay of Fundy.

Village Mayor Bonnie Morse said there had been no reports of major flooding in the Grand Manan area.

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“There were a few pools on the road, but nothing significant that warranted a road closure,” said Morse.

And although there were power outages at the height of the storm, Morse said NB-Power crews had quickly restored electricity to most homes and businesses in the area.

“Everybody is doing some cleanup today from trees and limbs that are down, but for the most part we survived it pretty good,” the mayor said.

In a statement on Sunday, the Halifax Regional Municipality noted that many traffic lights throughout the area have stopped working due to extensive power outages.

“Residents are reminded that if traffic lights are not working, they are to treat the intersection as a four-way stop,” the statement read.

As of 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, the municipality stated that all roads have re-opened after previously being closed due to “impassable conditions” caused by downed trees, powerlines, or washed-out culverts.

Some services that were cancelled at the height of Lee’s heavy rains and winds reopened on Sunday. In Halifax, the Alderney Ferry service resumed operations at 8 a.m. and the Canada Games Centre is expected to re-open at noon.

All Halifax public library locations will remain closed on Sunday.

Air traffic has resumed at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

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Downed trees rest in the front yard of a property in Shelburne, N.S., on Sunday morning. Skye Bryden-Blom

The town of Shelburne in southwestern Nova Scotia saw the full fury of the storm when it hit Saturday and sustained some flooding from a powerful storm surge in its harbour.

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“There is no question we had pretty close to a direct hit,” said Andy Blackmer, commodore of the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club. “Significant winds with a very high tide and storm surge on top of that flooded low lying areas and some town infrastructure was damaged.”

Blackmer said a sailboat on a private mooring broke free at one point and was later secured across the harbour by two members of the yacht club.

“Driving around town there are some branches down, but overall things look pretty reasonable except we’ve been out of power for over 24 hours,” he said.

Blackmer said the conditions improved during high tide in the evening, sparing the town any further damage from ocean waters.

“We were lucky that the timing of the winds and the tide were in our favour. It could have been a lot worse.”

The latest update from Environment Canada said the remnants of Lee are moving across the Gulf of St. Lawrence about 159 kilometres north-northwest of Port aux Basques, Newfoundland with maximum estimated sustained winds sitting at 74 kilometres per hour.

Click to play video: 'Moncton couple ties the knot as post-tropical cyclone Lee hits East Coast'
Moncton couple ties the knot as post-tropical cyclone Lee hits East Coast

— with files from the Canadian Press


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