Thousands of Quebecers were still in the dark on Tuesday after a powerful weekend storm that hit Quebec and Ontario killed at least 10 people and left a trail of damage across large swaths of both provinces.
In Quebec, the province’s hydro utility said about 120,000 customers were still without power on Tuesday. The hardest-hit areas included the Laurentians, where 69,495 customers were off the electricity grid, along with the Outaouais and Lanaudiere regions.
“Service to more than 76 per cent of affected customers has been restored so far and work continues with 700 teams on the ground,” Hydro-Quebec said.
One person died in Quebec during Saturday’s storm and nine people died in Ontario, as wind gusts up to 151 kilometres uprooted trees and downed power lines. Hydro-Quebec said that at the peak, about 550,000 customers in the province were in the dark across a territory stretching from Gatineau to Quebec City.
Regis Tellier, Hydro-Quebec vice-president of operations and maintenance, said on Monday that power lines couldn’t hold up against winds of such intensity.
“We are used to seeing branches, pieces of trees, but right now it’s trunks of 50, 60 centimetres,” Tellier said in an interview, adding that the debris left from the storm is making it hard to access and restore power in certain areas.
The utility said it will likely take longer than a couple of days to restore power to about 30,000 customers in more remote areas of the province.
In Gatineau, where a woman died Saturday after the boat she was in capsized on the Ottawa River, officials were preparing on Tuesday for potential flooding. Gatineau Mayor France Belisle told a news conference that water levels have risen rapidly in the city due to melting snow and recent heavy rainfall.
“It’s quite particular what we are experiencing right now,” Belisle said. “Let’s not panic; the city is currently doing what needs to be done to protect residents and infrastructure.”
The city estimated that up to 2,000 households could be affected by flooding in the next few days.
In Ontario, the storm led to more than 1,400 broken poles, 300 broken crossarms and nearly 200 damaged transformers. The province’s hydro utility said Tuesday morning that more than 148,000 customers were still without power.
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