95% of Hydro Ottawa customers have power, crews still working on small pockets

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Homes and trees in Ottawa damaged from a major wind and thunderstorm, known as a derecho on May 21. On Monday, the mayor said about 95 per cent of Hydro Ottawa customers have their power back, and crews are now working on the small pockets of residential areas without power. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
Homes and trees in Ottawa damaged from a major wind and thunderstorm, known as a derecho on May 21. On Monday, the mayor said about 95 per cent of Hydro Ottawa customers have their power back, and crews are now working on the small pockets of residential areas without power. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

Power has been restored to more than 95 per cent of Hydro Ottawa customers, following the major May 21 storm that blew through the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

During a Monday news conference, Mayor Jim Watson quoted that figure and said about 8,000 customers remain without power as of Monday morning, after about 10 days of power outages.

Watson empathized with customers in rural areas, and in some small pockets around the city who are still waiting for electricity.

"I know it's frustrating, it's annoying, and it's very inconvenient. And we're doing everything we can," said Watson. "I want to thank the hydro crews working literally around the clock."

Alain Gonthier, the city's general manager for public works, said about 20 roads are still closed because of wires and downed trees. Meanwhile, only 20 intersections remain not-operational — down from more than 700 immediately following the storm over a week ago.

Gonthier said public works employees will begin this week to reintegrate paused work like cutting grass and minor maintenance around residential areas.

Bryce Conrad, Hydro Ottawa's CEO, said crews will now focus on the small pockets of residential areas still experiencing outages.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, Conrad said in the Hydro Ottawa territory, there were:

  • 33 outages of more than 50 customers.

  • 27 outages of between 10 and 50 customers.

  • 273 outages of 10 or fewer customers.

Even when the system is "up and running," Conrad said there are currently 150 homes that will need damage repair and electrical safety checks.

"That number will go up," he said, as crews discover more damage every day they work.

Emergency support changes

The number of customers without power was originally around 180,000. Hydro Ottawa has described the widespread damage from the lightning and windstorm as worse than the 1998 ice storm and 2018 tornadoes.

Some Ottawa roads remain affected by power outages, fallen debris or both. Work is also well underway to handle this debris and other waste after the storm.

The city has changed its approach to emergency support, scaling back the number of emergency respite centres in favour of four "one-stop shops" and invitations to use power and washrooms at community and recreation centres.

More than 8,000 customers in the region who are not served by Hydro Ottawa are without power, mostly around Bancroft, Ont., and Tweed, Ont.

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