Hundreds of thousands still without power in Quebec, Ontario after ice storm

In Quebec and Ontario, hundreds of thousands of households remained in the dark Friday morning after Wednesday’s powerful spring ice storm downed trees and brought down power lines, leaving one man dead.

Hydro-Québec said it has restored electricity for one-third of affected clients across the province, but the regions of Montreal, Montérégie and the Laurentians remain the hardest hit by the outages.

“There is no question we’re living with a crisis,” Quebec Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said at a news conference Friday.

At the peak, upward of one million households were without power. As of Friday morning, nearly 675,000 customers are still in the dark.

Read more: Man dies from fallen branch as ice storm wreaks havoc on Quebec, Ontario

Fitzgibbon said he was satisfied with the progress made so far, saying nearly 1,400 workers were on the ground to resolve the ongoing outages and that about 45 per cent of affected clients have the lights back on.

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Hydro-Québec director of energy system control Maxime Nadeau warned that high winds reaching 70 kilometres per hour could hamper efforts, but they’re closely monitoring the situation. Power outages should dip to 300,000 clients by the weekend, but some people may only get electricity back by Sunday or even Monday, he added.

In hard-hit Montreal, emergency centres are open across the city for those who need to warm up or charge their phones. Mayor Valérie Plante has asked people to move their cars if they are blocking crews from accessing damaged sites, adding parking tickets will not be given out Friday.

Click to play video: 'Cleanup efforts underway after powerful ice storm strikes Quebec'

Cleanup efforts underway after powerful ice storm strikes Quebec

In Ontario, some 23,000 customers just in Ottawa remain without power as of the last update from Hydro Ottawa at 10:30 p.m. Thursday night. The utility provider said it doesn’t expect to have power back up and restored for many until Saturday.

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“We are expecting the situation to continue to fluctuate through the evening and into tomorrow and are treating this as a multi-day restoration event,” Hydro Ottawa said in a statement.

In addition, Hydro One — which provides power to residents outside of Ottawa in the Eastern Ontario region of the province — said on Thursday it has restored power to 238,000 customers but many remain without.

“Currently, there are approximately 93,000 customers without power, with eastern Ontario being one of the hardest hit regions in the province,” the provider said. “The company is working alongside contractors and utility partners, using every tool at their disposal including helicopters, to assess damage and restore power quickly and safely.”

A tree crashed onto a parked car damaging the vehicle during an ice storm in Montreal on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. Courtesy Peter Stauber

Heavy freezing rain Wednesday led to ice-coated tree branches crashing onto power lines, streets and cars across parts of southern Quebec. The ice storm especially wreaked havoc on Montreal and the Montérégie.

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Quebec provincial police said a man in his 60s died Thursday when he was crushed by a tree branch while attempting to cut down branches on his property in Les Coteaux, southwest of Montreal.

Premier François Legault has urged people to exercise caution in the days to come.

with files from The Canadian Press

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