Canadian Underwriter

Newfoundland Power crews describe weekend storm as ‘worse than hurricane Igor’

March 13, 2017   by THE CANADIAN PRESS

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JOHN’S, N.L. – Newfoundland Power is continuing work to restore electricity to areas of the province ravaged by a massive weekend windstorm.

Utility spokeswoman Michele Coughlan said 5,000 customers were still without power early Monday – a figure down from the 70,000 that were affected at the height of the storm on Saturday.

“We’ve got all of the main power lines back on,” said Coughlan. “So now it really is the individual isolated customers that we are working to restore power to.”

She said the remaining pockets include 3,000 customers on the Avalon and Burin Peninsulas and 2,000 in St. John’s and surrounding areas.

Coughlan said although cold, weather conditions had stabilized for work crews who battled sustained hurricane force winds over the weekend.

“We had 110 kilometre an hour sustained winds,” she said. “For many of our crews who have been through many storms . . . they describe it as being worse than hurricane Igor.”

Hurricane Igor hit the southeastern part of the province in September 2010, swamping it with torrents of rain.

Coghlan said damage to electrical infrastructure by Saturday’s storm was extensive.

“We had cracked poles, broken cross arms, downed power lines, trees on lines and flying debris into power lines,” she said.

Coghlan said the utility hoped to restore power for most of the remaining customers by the end of the day on Monday.

Meanwhile, people were continuing to assess the damage caused by wind gusts of between 140 km/h and 160 km/h that blew through much of province.

Damage evident around St. John’s included slate tiles that were blown into an alley 100 metres from a downtown church. Roofs were also partly off several houses and buildings and a home in nearby Torbay had its top floor blown off.

Traffic moved slowly in St. John’s on Monday after damage to about 142 traffic lights. Many intersections were reduced to de facto four-way stops.

Municipal and provincial government offices staggered their openings to ease the flow of rush-hour traffic.

The ongoing outages also led to a water conservation order issued for all residents in St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Portugal Cove-St. Phillips and Conception Bay South. Technical issues at the Bay Bulls Big Pond water treatment facility were cited as the cause.

Eastern Health also closed clinics in Placentia and Trepassey because there was no power.

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