Kathleen Curtis had her first hot shower in four days on Monday, at a friend’s house, and she is charging her cellphone in her car as she and thousands of other New Brunswickers cope without electricity, phones, hot water and gas while the province cleans up after post-tropical-storm Arthur.
Most of the 86,000 customers still without electricity may have to wait until Wednesday evening for it to be restored. For the others, it won’t be until the weekend.
“I’ve lived in Fredericton all my life … and I’ve never witnessed anything like this,” said Ms. Curtis, a university student, noting the broken trees and debris on the roads, the shuttered stores, 50-car lineups for gasoline and an hour wait for coffee at the downtown Tim Hortons.
NB Power said the high winds and heavy rain that came with Arthur on Saturday “caused more damage to New Brunswick’s power grid than any other storm in our history.”
In Fredericton, which was hardest hit, provincial government offices were closed on Monday. One downtown doctor’s clinic was full of patients and working by flashlight. About 2,000 trees came down in the city.
Among those without electricity and cell service is Premier David Alward, who lost more than 30 trees on his farm in Meductic in southern New Brunswick. “I think, certainly, in the last 24 hours, we’ve really started to understand the significant impact on the province,” he said in an interview from his office in Fredericton, where he also had his first shower in four days.
Government offices will reopen on Tuesday. Assessments will be made about compensation, given the economic impact of the storm.
“Without a doubt, it has been a huge hit on the Maritimes,” Mr. Alward said. “You look at the festivals that are going on this time of year, you look at the amount of tourism … it can’t help but be impacted,” he said.
At the peak of the storm on Saturday, which brought winds of up to 100 kilometres an hour and as much as 150 millimetres of rain in some areas, the power went out for about 140,000 New Brunswickers. On Monday, about 40,000 customers in Fredericton, a city of 56,224, were without electricity.
In Nova Scotia, 140,000 customers were in the dark at the peak of the storm. By Monday evening, 24,678 were still waiting to be reconnected.
In New Brunswick, about 220 crews are working to restore the power, but it is a slow process. Also, huge, century-old trees pulled right out by their roots are difficult to move and are delaying the cleanup. Extra crews from Quebec and Maine are helping NB Power.
Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud said storms of Arthur’s magnitude typically come later in the summer or early fall.
He sees no bad weather for at least 10 days and said the storm forecast this season is near to below average because an El Nino is expected to develop towards the end of the summer and into the early fall.
“Whenever we have an El Nino, we tend to have fewer storms,” he said.