Sunday, July 13, 2014

Storm Arthur power outages cut to 6,736 in New Brunswick

NB Power achieved its 95% power restoration target hours earlier than expected

CBC News Posted: Jul 13, 2014 9:05 AM AT Last Updated: Jul 13, 2014 3:38 PM AT
NB Power achieved its 95-per-cent power restoration target hours earlier than predicted on Sunday evening, as the number of customers without electricity dropped to roughly 6,700.

NB Power was reporting 6,736 customers without electricity around the province at 3:10 p.m. on Sunday. The drop in customers without power means the utility has already hit its 95-per-cent target that it set for Sunday evening.

At the peak of the outages from Arthur, 140,000 customers were affected. So far, 95.19 per cent of those customers now have electricity again.

Fredericton continues to be the hardest hit community with power outages. There were 5,145 customers without power at 3:10 p.m. on Sunday.

There were another 800 customers without electricity in Woodstock and 494 customers in St. Stephen.

The utility used Twitter on Sunday to announce it has already met its Sunday deadline.

Scott said more than 300 crews are working on Sunday.

All but a couple of hundred customers are expected to be back on line by Tuesday evening.

"We are facing a lot of situations whereby we have trees that have fallen on lines in areas, in a lot of cases, where it's very complicated to try to restore power," Scott said.

"Having said that, we're going to do everything we possibly can to go by that 95 per cent number tonight and of course we're looking to have 99 per cent of the people restored by Tuesday evening."

NB Power restored electricity to roughly 6,000 customers on Saturday. Scott said it is unlikely that feat could be achieved two days in a row.

"While that number will be hard to meet today because of the fact that where we are down to [outages of] ones and twos in most cases, there is not a lot of large ones left. So it will be more complicated to meet that same number today," Scott said.

"But our crews will be working hard to achieve the goal that we set for them. … We are hopeful, really, really hopeful that by this evening we will be able to say that we’ve exceeded the goal of 95 per cent."

Nova Scotia Power said on Sunday that all Arthur-related outages have been restored.
Stacey Pineau, a Nova Scotia Power spokesperson, said the company has offered NB Power equipment and supplies as it continues to reconnect customers who have been left in the dark for the last eight days.

At this point, Pineau said NB Power has not requested any crews but they would consider sending Nova Scotia Power staff if asked.

She said all of the contractors who were working with Nova Scotia Power are now available to work in New Brunswick.

"We had contract crews that were helping us and they were New Brunswick-based contractors and they were also from Emera Maine. So we released those crews and that would mean if somebody else wanted to make use of them, they would be able to do so," she said.

'All for a good cause'

Tree crews were working in Fredericton, clearing trees away from power lines.

Karen Simonds watched one crew in her backyard on Sunday morning cut down trees that were too close to the power lines.

She said she didn't think any of her trees would need to come down in order for her electricity to be restored.

“It’s a little overwhelming especially when you had birch trees that you cherished and they are coming down but it’s all for a good cause,” Simonds said.

“We will be really happy to get electricity back today or tomorrow.”
Simonds was also talking to the tree crews, trying to preserve the some of the large trees in her backyard.

"I'm trying to save as much as I can but on the other hand new do need lines cleared so that this doesn't happen again," she said.

In Narapis, near Grand Bay-Westfield, on Sunday, some residents were still planning on being without electricity for several more days.

Darrin Duke said being without electricity for so long has been "a major inconvenience." It has also been tough financially.

For instance, Duke said he's paid more than $700 in gas to keep his generator operating.
But, he said, he doesn't want to blame NB Power for the lengthy outage.

"[NB Power] are doing their best. There is a lot of damage everywhere, but what are you going to do?" Duke said.

"There are only 24 hours in a day, they are working as hard as they can."

Businesses busy

The Woodstock area has consistently had one of the highest numbers of customers without power since Arthur left New Brunswick.

Several businesses say that have been extremely busy helping people in the area remain stocked up on food and ice while their power remained out and feeding power crews who were restoring electricity in nearby communities.

Maureen Brinkman, who works at Murray's Irving in Woodstock, said her business has witnessed a steady stream of people coming through their doors in the last eight days.

“We had a lot of people coming in for showers because we have showers here. People, who had no power would come in for showers and ice,” she said.

“It was busy, people were coming in with gas jugs and stuff for the generators, the NB Power trucks and the different power commissions, they have been coming in for breakfast and stuff like that in the morning. When we first get in here [in the morning], all kinds of power commission trucks [are] in here.”

Debbie Creelman, who operates the Irving Gas Bar in Meductic, said she can’t get enough ice stocked to keep up with demand. She has also run out of crucial items, such as milk and bread, in the last week.

Despite the difficulty in keeping her store stocked up, Creelman said it has been nice to help her community in the days after the storm.

"I got told many times how much they appreciated us being there for them and whatnot,” she said.
“I got a lot of compliments that way, people have come in and said, ‘You guys are lifesavers,' and I said, 'Well, you do what you have to do when people are down and out.’”


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