Large swaths of Quebec will continue to be without power into next week following an intense autumn storm that unleashed heavy rain and punishing winds of up to 100 kilometres an hour, Premier Francois Legault said on Saturday.
But Legault said the large majority of homes and businesses without power — roughly 450,000 customers — would likely be reconnected to the grid by Sunday night.
“There are still three regions that are problematic and where we think it could take longer than Sunday,” Legault said.
Those regions are the Monteregie area around the city of Sherbrooke, the Laurentians and Lanaudiere sectors north of Montreal, and the Beauce region south of Quebec City.
Legault said one casualty of Friday’s storm has been reported. A 63-year-old man died Friday morning in Bromont, about 85 kilometres east of Montreal, when a tree fell on him.
“I want to offer all my condolences to the family and friends of the man from Bromont,” Legault said.
Eric Martel, president of Hydro-Quebec, said about 1,000 hydro employees were working to repair 250 hydro poles knocked out during the storm. He said about 300 power lines were downed across the province, and 2,500 loads of branches, trees and other vegetation affecting the distribution system needed to be cleared away.
Hydro-Quebec is usually the organization that sends workers to other provinces and U.S. states to help restore power but now it’s the province’s turn to request assistance, Martel said. But few workers from outside the province were available, because areas around Quebec were also hit hard by the strong winds and rain.
Still, Martel said contractors from New Brunswick had arrived to help, and 40 teams from Detroit were expected to arrive Saturday afternoon and be ready to work by Sunday.
“We are putting in all the effort to bring the situation back to normal as quickly as possible,” Martel said. “The good news is that by (Sunday night) we should have covered the majority of the blackouts.”
Heavy rain also brought flooding to southern parts of the province but Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said earlier Saturday she didn’t know exactly how many people were forced from their homes because local authorities hadn’t updated their figures. Around 250 homes and businesses were evacuated Friday in Sherbrooke, and about 30 roads were flooded in the region.
About one million people were without power at the height of the blackouts, the highest number since the 1998 ice storm left 1.4 million homes and business in the dark. But unlike in 1998 when transmission lines collapsed, the hydro utility said the main network this time was not affected.
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