Tens of thousands of homes, businesses in Ottawa and eastern Ontario still without power following storm

Hydro Ottawa hopes to restore electricity to the majority of homes and businesses across Ottawa today, as the clean up continues following the freezing rainstorm.

Tens of thousands of homes, businesses and schools in Ottawa, eastern Ontario and western Quebec remain without power more than 24 hours after the storm hit the region with ice pellets, freezing rain and strong winds.

“We experienced one of the most devastating ice storms since 1998,” Joseph Muglia, Director of Systems Operations and Grid Automation of Hydro Ottawa, told reporters.

As of 11 a.m., approximately 65,000 customers across the city of Ottawa remain without power. Hydro One is reporting 110,000 customers without electricity across eastern Ontario.

Muglia says crews are focusing on restoring power to 20 large clusters, that account for over 45,000 of the existing customers still in the dark.

“This is a multi-day event; it’s slow moving, it’s very organic,” Muglia said.

“Throughout the day yesterday, we saw a lot of changes we hadn’t anticipated, and just because of the weather, the different types of perception and what we experienced throughout the day we ended up getting this ice buildup. Rather than things getting better for us they got progressively worse throughout the day.”

The storm covered roads, sidewalks, trees and hydro infrastructure with a layer of ice throughout the day, and hundreds of trees have been downed across the region.  Hydro Ottawa says some circuits has as many of 15 trees down on hydro wires.

Environment Canada recorded 38.5 mm of freezing rain, ice pellets and rain at the Ottawa airport on Wednesday, the greatest precipitation total on April 5 in Ottawa history. An estimated 25 to 30 mm of ice accretion was recorded in parts of the Outaouais.

Dozens of schools are closed in Ottawa and eastern Ontario today due to the power outage, while school buses are cancelled for all schools in the region.

Hydro Ottawa says the continuous freezing rain through the day hampered restoration efforts.

“The continuous accumulation of ice caused by freezing rain resulted in significant damage to trees across the city and to our equipment and wires,” Muglia said.

The Hydro Ottawa outage map shows several power outages across the city on Thursday morning. The outages include 5,200 customers in the Sittsville, Kanata, Carleton-March and Rideau-Jock area, and 4,000 customers without power in the Beacon Hill-Cyrville and Orleans area.

Hydro One

Hydro One is reporting 110,000 customers without power across eastern Ontario.  The hardest hit areas include Vankleek Hill, Winchester and Arnprior.

“As of right now, it’s all hands on deck. We have mobilized crews from across the province; we’re working alongside contractors to assist with these restoration efforts,” Alanna Myles, media relations with Hydro One, told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Andrew Pinsent.

More than 14,000 customers are without power in an area stretching from Kemptville to Winchester.

Myles says Mother Nature should cooperate with restoration efforts today.

“Today’s weather conditions are looking favourable for our helicopter, which will help crews identify issues and make those repairs more quickly,” Myles said. “We’re anticipating to make some great progress today as we move crews into the hardest hit areas, however due to the severity of this storm this could take multiple days.”

Hydro One crews from southern and central Ontario will be sent to eastern Ontario to assist with the cleanup. The Hydro One outage map lists the estimated restoration time as Thursday or Friday, depending on the area.

Hydro Quebec is reporting 136 outages across the Outaouais region of western Quebec, with 126,000 customers without power Thursday morning. Approximately 75,000 customers in Gatineau are still without power.

Debris cleanup

City of Ottawa officials say staff are working to clear trees and limbs that are blocking streets across the city.

The city’s Forestry Services department received over 600 requests for storm debris on Wednesday, including calls for broken limbs and downed trees due to ice accretion.

“Once hazards and streets are cleared, staff and contractors will address broken limbs, non-hazardous removals, and brush/wood cleanup. Further, some trees may require reinspection and pruning work following the storm,” Public Works general manager Alain Gonthier said in a statement Wednesday night.

“Forestry staff and contractors with the support of Roads staff will be working into the evening and over the coming weeks to address storm related service requests.”

Residents are asked to stay away from broken and hanging branches/limbs on trees.

City of Ottawa facilities

The following city of Ottawa centres will be open today for residents to shower and charge devices.

  • Jim Durrell Centre
  • Canterbury Community Centre
  • Alexandra Community Centre
  • Carleton Heights Community Centre
  • Hunt Club Riverside Park Community Centre
  • J.A. Dulude Arena

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