Ice storm: About 135,000 Quebec hydro customers in the dark

As the sun set on Saturday evening, thousands of Quebecers felt chills after three full days of power outages.

More than 1.1 million customers across the state lost power during the height of power outages following Wednesday’s deadly ice storm.

As of 10 p.m. Saturday, that number had dropped to about 135,000.

The majority of blackouts remain in Montreal (90,000+), Monterégie (13,000+), Laval (10,000+), Outahue (15,000+), Lower Laurentian (1,600+), and Lanaudière (200+).

Hydro-Quebec officials hope to have everyone’s lights on by Sunday, but said it could take a little longer for some.

Hydro-Quebec Director Maxime Nadeau said:

“Now we are working on outages with fewer customers connected, so when we come back up and go out, we will have fewer customers to restore power.”

Hydro-Quebec restores power based on four priority levels. Outages that threaten public safety, such as emergency services, and outages that affect the most people are prioritized first. Commercial and residential suspensions are last.

Beware of poisonous gas

Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon urged residents to stay away from power lines and dangerous branches, and to keep barbecues and generators outside.

He referred to the death of a 75-year-old man who was found unconscious near a diesel generator in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac. This was his third (his second in Quebec) death related to the storm.

“One died yesterday. One too many,” Fitzgibbon said. “Barbecue, they like to be outside. Let’s keep it outside… Security is very important.”

Le Coteaux, the Que man. He died on Thursday trying to cut a branch of a tree on his property, An Ontario man also died from a fallen tree branch on Wednesday.

The Montreal Public Health Department reported that dozens of people have been diagnosed or treated for carbon monoxide poisoning since Wednesday.

(Source: Hydro-Québec)

Slow power recovery

Nadeau said some outages take longer to repair, which slows the pace of recovery. He added that the main cause of blackouts was tree branches that had fallen onto power lines.

More than 1,500 Hydro-Québec workers remain on site.

“Our goal is to restore 1 million customers for tomorrow, but as I said the day before, customers will be out of power on Monday.

According to Hydro-Quebec’s latest estimates, 100,000 to 150,000 customers will have to wait until Monday, or “a few days later”, before being reconnected.

“These nursing homes have special priorities and we are working very hard to restore those types of priorities as quickly as possible,” Nadeau said.

Hydro-Quebec said 10% of its workers were private contractors and did not seek help from other states.

Hydro workers inspect power lines after an ice storm in Montreal, Friday, April 7, 2023. Hydro-Quebec says it has restored power to more than 500,000 customers since Wednesday’s ice storm, but more than 600,000 remain in the dark.Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

At a press conference in Montreal on Saturday afternoon, Public Safety Minister François Bonadel acknowledged that the situation has not been easy for those without electricity since Wednesday.

“Having learned about emergencies like a pandemic, we were able to take steps to meet their needs so they could warm up, power their appliances, and even sleep indoors.” It serves as a temporary refuge for the Saint-Michel borough.

“We are doing everything we can to make life a little easier, but we know everyone wants to reconnect as soon as possible.”

People take a detour through a cracked and fallen tree after the Montreal ice storm on Friday, April 7, 2023. Hydro-Québec says it has restored power to more than 500,000 customers since Wednesday’s ice storm, but more than 600,000 remain in darkness.Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

Open on Sundays

During the Easter weekend and in the middle of Ramadan, many people were left without power for days.

“One of the problems is that people can’t keep food in their refrigerators, so we plan to help six regions in Quebec open their grocery stores tomorrow,” Fitzgibbon said.

Grocery stores that normally close on Easter Sunday can reopen in Montreal, Laval, Lanaudière, Monterégie, Otoute and Lower Laurentians, Fitzgibbon said.

In response, Metro Inc. announced that select Metro, Super C and Adonis stores in the affected areas will be open from 9am to 6pm on Sundays.

We recommend checking the list of open stores on each retailer’s website. Adonis Facebook page.

Using Keila DePape files from The Canadian Press and CTV

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