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Thousands in the Maritimes remain without power four days after Arthur

Dartmouth, N.S. residents examine a tree that has toppled onto power lines by tropical storm Arthur on Saturday July 5, 2014.


Thousands of households and businesses remained without power Wednesday in areas of the Maritimes, four days after they were ravaged by the force of post-tropical storm Arthur.

In New Brunswick, which sustained the greatest damage in Saturday's storm, utility crews continued work in the hardest hit areas in and around Fredericton and the southwestern part of the province.

NB Power spokeswoman Meghan Gerrish said the utility hoped to have 80 per cent of its customers affected by the outages back online by Thursday night, with the remainder to be restored by the weekend.

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Gerrish said 275 crews were repairing damage caused by thousands of fallen trees.

"In some areas it's going to take three or four crews to get power restored to customers in more remote locations," said Gerrish.

She said cranes and large boom trucks were being used as crews dealt with damage to electrical infrastructure. Gerrish didn't have a provincewide estimate but said in the Fredericton-area alone, the utility had to deal with more than 2,000 fallen trees and replace more than 40 power poles.

About 35,000 customers in New Brunswick were without electricity by late Wednesday — 22,000 of them in the Fredericton area.

The provincial government has set up 33 reception centres across the province to allow people to pick up water, take a shower or charge their phones and other electronic devices. The centres can be found on Acadian Peninsula, the Miramichi area, Saint John, Charlotte County, Fredericton and Carleton County.

The province's Emergency Measure's organization said post-tropical storm Arthur was so powerful it pulled down trees that would have withstood a typical storm.

"The size of trees are causing special challenges as they are blocking access to some properties and require specialized equipment to be moved," the organization said in a statement Wednesday. "In addition, storm-weakened trees continue to fall on lines, causing new outages."

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In Fredericton, more than 1,000 NB Power customers lost their power Wednesday — some of them for the second time — when a vehicle hit a utility pole.

In Nova Scotia, private utility Nova Scotia Power said about 1,200 customers were still without electricity around the same time.

Bob Hanf, Nova Scotia Power's president, toured some of the affected areas around Port Williams, N.S., and apologized to customers following complaints about the communication system set up to inform the public about outages.

"Our communications systems ... did not work up to the standard that we are used to and our customers are used to and for that I apologize," said Hanf.

Hanf said the utility will conduct an internal review to find out what went wrong with systems including the online outage map once power was fully restored. He said that review will also look at how information is gathered to establish restoration estimates.

He also said the utility had enough crews on the ground to deal with potential problems, but that the damage was as bad as when hurricane Juan hit the province in 2003.

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The utility said 700 linemen, foresters and engineers were in the field and it was expected power would be restored by Thursday in central and eastern Nova Scotia and by Friday in the western end of the province.

Arthur knocked out power to more than 250,000 customers at the height of Saturday's storm.

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