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Residents of Pangnirtung, Nunavut get electricity back after days-long power outage

Power was restored in Pangnirtung on Sunday after extended power outages which left some residents in the community without power for nearly five days. (Emily Ridlington/CBC - image credit)
Power was restored in Pangnirtung on Sunday after extended power outages which left some residents in the community without power for nearly five days. (Emily Ridlington/CBC - image credit)

Residents of Pangnirtung, Nunavut have access to heat and electricity again after days-long power outages led the hamlet council to declare a local state of emergency on Saturday.

According to Qulliq Energy Corporation, which provides power to the community, electricity was restored for all customers on Sunday, with the exception of one resident whose power could not be restored due to "structural damage".

Resident Sheena Machmer got power back on in her home on Sunday afternoon.

"It was a feeling of relief, knowing that we're gonna have heat without thinking, without working hard," she said.

Qulliq Energy first reported power outages in the community on Wednesday, though one resident who CBC spoke to said that he thought some people might have been without power since Tuesday.

The company announced on social media that power fully restored to the community at 9 p.m. on Sunday. The flight carrying the repair crew from Iqaluit arrived in the community at about 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Repair crews were originally slated to arrive in Pangnirtung on Saturday, but the flight was cancelled due to high wind and snow.

Machmer said she couldn't remember exactly when their power first went out, but that they went at least four nights without power.

"It's been so many days, it feels like," she said, laughing.

She said that Pangnirtung frequently experiences power outages, but that it's rare for them to last as long as this one did. For the first couple of days, her family heated their house with only a naphtha coleman stove, though later they were able to get a generator hooked up to their furnace.

"In the beginning it wasn't too bad," she said. "But as the days dragged on… it was getting colder each day."

But as difficult as it was for her family, she said that for many in the community, power outages can be even more challenging.

"I had two families staying with us who had absolutely nothing, no coleman stove, no candles, no flashlights, no anything. So they came and took refuge in our house," she said.

"It must have been tough. I know it's tough."

'Everyone is pulling together'

Despite the challenges, Machmer said she is proud of how the community came together to support each other during the outages.

She says that some residents volunteered to deliver people naphtha for their coleman stoves. The local Northern store and Arctic Co-op gave out all the food in their freezers at the local school, where the community set up an emergency shelter for residents, as did the Pangnirtung Fisheries plant.

"Everyone is pulling together and helping each other out, it was really heartwarming to see," she said.

Resident Billy Etooangat said that he wasn't too fazed by the power outage, as he remembered other big power outages in the community, around one every five years. But, he said he was glad to have some free frozen food.

"There was pizza, meat patties, there was all sorts of different varieties. It was fun."

More repairs necessary

In an announcement posted to social media on Sunday night, Qulliq Energy said that repairs crews would be staying in the community overnight before finishing up needed repairs on Monday.

The announcement also said that finishing those repairs would involve some planned outages throughout the day, and that those outages would be announced on social media.

Anyone in the community who notices trouble with their power has been asked to try and contact the company while repair crews are in town. The QEC Emergency Line is 1-833-313-3030.