Northern Sask. residents optimistic power will return this afternoon

·3 min read
Photos from people in line for fuel in La Ronge and the surrounding area flooded social media earlier this week. (Submitted by Lisa Coutoreille - image credit)
Photos from people in line for fuel in La Ronge and the surrounding area flooded social media earlier this week. (Submitted by Lisa Coutoreille - image credit)

Some 9,000 people in Saskatchewan were left without power this week due to the Cloverdale wildfire that still burns north of Prince Albert.

Six communities of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band were impacted by the power outages.

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said the tri-community area — La Ronge, Lac La Ronge 156 and Air Ronge — and each of the other impacted communities established emergency operations centres to ensure everyone's safety.

Images of long lineups for gas flooded social media, but things have settled on that front now, thanks to news that power could be restored by as early as this afternoon.

Cook-Searson said the sense of community stood out to her. When asked by a media outlet for photos, she took to social media and asked community members to share some of their favourite images from the outage.

Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson told CBC Radio on Thursday morning that nights went by with no power.
Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson told CBC Radio on Thursday morning that nights went by with no power.(Submitted by Glenda Cook)

"Even here, when you drive in the community, you'll drive and then you'll see families at their smoke house and they have the fire going, and they have a cookout," she said.

"It's nice in a way, but we really rely on the power for the health and safety of our community members, for heat, for everything. It really shows how much we rely on SaskPower."

Residents took to their backyard fires, barbeques and smokehouses to cook during the outage, Cook-Searson said.
Residents took to their backyard fires, barbeques and smokehouses to cook during the outage, Cook-Searson said.(Submitted by Samantha Charles)

Optimistic for afternoon restoration

The next priority, she said, becomes ensuring everyone is safe whenever the power is restored.

"A lot of people have generators hooked up to their homes and different things and some people might have went south… and maybe left things on," Cook-Searson said.

"When the power goes out and you want to leave your home, sometimes you don't check to see if your stoves are off, or whatever it is."

Residents found a variety of light sources and activities to keep themselves busy in the days the power was out.
Residents found a variety of light sources and activities to keep themselves busy in the days the power was out.(Submitted by Lorna Hardlotte)

In Stanley Mission, about 60 kilometres north of La Ronge, power issues were compounded by water issues and a COVID-19 outbreak.

Cook-Searson said that as of Thursday, water was running and the sewer system was functional in the small community.

For the most part, Cook-Searson said she heard people were cold, but otherwise OK.

Pictures of people's homes including tents, or from the insides of tents, were another common sight on social media through the power outage.
Pictures of people's homes including tents, or from the insides of tents, were another common sight on social media through the power outage.(Submitted by McKenzie Chris)

One thing she's preparing for is food spoilage. Those who didn't have generators may have to throw away a lot of food and she said they'll need to have it replenished somehow.

Another interesting challenge the outage presented was internet access. Without wireless internet services, many were forced to use cellular data, which resulted in slower network speeds, Cook-Searson said.

The band and public officials were still able to relay information via social media and by going door-to-door with information for residents, she said.

On Thursday morning Cook-Searson was optimistic power would be restored later in the day, but preparations were underway for the worst-case scenario.

"We had 100 propane bottles delivered from the Prince Albert Grand Council, they delivered more blankets, more generators, so we're still preparing," Cook-Searson said.

"We'll still continue to have the warm shelters and also, people cooking in different [Lac La Ronge Indian Band] communities providing the meals on wheels, or else they have a drive-thru where you can pick up meals."

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