Hydro Ottawa workers disperse to fix mass outages

Hydro workers in Ottawa are dispersing across the Ottawa Valley and into western Quebec to help fix power outages caused by the winter storm that hit the area Friday and Saturday.

Two crews from Hydro Ottawa, adding up to seven employees left Saturday to help with storm recovery efforts after more than 45 centimetres of snow hit the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

Hydro Quebec has reported more than 100,000 customers were left without power, including those in west Quebec as well as others in the Laurentians and closer to Montreal.

The Ottawa workers are able to help other hydro workers because they were able to solve the problems in Goulbourn, Barrhaven, north Kanata and Beechwood areas, the worst outages in their coverage area.

One crew of workers was dispatched to Arnprior to help Hydro One as a few thousand customers still had no power in the Ottawa Valley. A second crew was sent to Gatineau to help the Gatineau, Papineauville and Laurentians area where tens of thousands are without power. The work will continue over the next few days but there might not be power in some homes on Christmas Eve.

But both the Diefenbunker Museum in Carp and Camp Fortune at the edge of Gatineau Park, which had the power restored Saturday, were open Sunday.

In Ottawa, the cleanup will continue Sunday as about 500 City of Ottawa workers plan to complete a more thorough cleaning of city streets after the snow continued to fall into Saturday night.

"It's a challenging storm because we've had to go back over and over the priorities," said Kevin Wylie, city manager of roads and traffic operations.

City workers were forced to spread salt and sand Saturday, especially in rural areas, where snow was blowing and ice was forming. That was due to wind gusts up to 75 km/h and a temperature dropping to about -7 C, which followed the wet and mild weather that existed during the storm.

That all made snow clearing more difficult, Wylie said.

CBC Ottawa climatologist Ian Black said the high Sunday of -8 C will keep the snow around.

That allows city crews and hydro crews to resume work without more obstacles. It also makes it more likely the snow will stick around for a white Christmas.

But in Gatineau Park, only 36 per cent of ski trails were opened as ice-covered branches were falling, causing hazards on many trails, according to the National Capital Commission.

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