Thousands of households still without power in southwestern Quebec

·4 min read
Sainte-Adèle resident Michel Tétreault, left, has been without electricity since Saturday when a storm knocked down several power lines in his town. (CBC - image credit)
Sainte-Adèle resident Michel Tétreault, left, has been without electricity since Saturday when a storm knocked down several power lines in his town. (CBC - image credit)

The loud sound of chainsaws and clean-up crews filled the air in the normally quiet residential streets of Sainte-Adèle, a town about 80 kilometres northwest of Montreal in the Laurentians, on Tuesday.

More than half of the town's households and buildings, including city hall and the fire hall, have been without power since Saturday, when a large storm swept across the province and knocked down several power lines.

Michel Tétreault is one of the residents affected. Twelve of his trees were knocked down during the storm, with some falling on his garage roof.

"It was like snow in front of the window — white, for about 30 seconds," he said, describing the storm. "You couldn't see nothing."

Tétreault lost the food he had in his fridge and freezer when the electricity went out. He is relying on food deliveries from family members and cooking on his backyard grill.

But he and his neighbours are not alone.

More than 112,000 households across the province remained without power on Tuesday afternoon, according to Hydro-Québec.

Crews were hard at work during the day, tending to the 1,400 power separate outages still in effect across the province. Most of the outages are in the Laurentians, Lanaudière and the Outaouais regions.

"Our goal is really to have the large majority of people back by tonight," said Hydro-Québec spokesperson Caroline Des Rosiers.

But the sheer number of outages makes that task more challenging, Des Rosiers said.

"There are physically 1,400 places where our crews need to go and see and assess what happened and what they need to do to bring power back."

To make matters worse, most of the outages are in remote locations that can take some time to reach, she said.

"Sometimes it's difficult to access, sometimes [our crews] need to do work before they can actually reconnect power."

What's more, each remaining outage is affecting a relatively small number of people, so restoring power at one location only slightly improves the overall situation, she explained.

Hydro-Québec sent out some 700 crews on the ground Tuesday, including teams from regions that haven't been affected by the outages and even some from New Brunswick.

More than 550,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm, according to the public utility.

Temporary services in place

The town of Sainte-Adèle has set up a generator at one of its community centres so that citizens without power can go charge their devices, get free Wi-Fi and use the washroom facilities.

The municipality also set up portable showers and opened access to the showers at one of the local high schools.

In addition to not having electricity, many residents also don't have running water because they have wells that rely on electric pumps.

Although most streets have been cleared from branches and debris, Sainte-Adèle Mayor Michèle Lalonde said it's likely many residents won't have electricity until this weekend.

That includes her own house. "In the morning I have my coffee using my barbecue to boil the water," she said, laughing.

Submitted by the municipality of Saint-Adèle
Submitted by the municipality of Saint-Adèle

Other municipalities in the region are also offering temporary services for residents who still don't have power.

That's the case of the nearby town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, which has set up free hot showers, charging stations, Wi-Fi and water for residents in need.

The town's water plant and its recycling facility had to close because of electric damages caused by the storm, but the city's general manager, Simon Lafrenière, said repair work was underway.

Schools shut down

Several schools in the region were unable to open Tuesday due to the storm damage and lack of electricity.

The local school in Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, a municipality in the north of the Lanaudière region, will be closed for the remainder of the school year. The high winds ripped part of the school's roof, and heavy rain damaged the classrooms.

The school's 150 students will have to wait until next Monday to be relocated to another space where they can finish the school year.

The storm also ripped off the gymnasium roof of the local school in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, another town in the region. Students there are expected back in class on Thursday.

Hydro-Québec is asking residents who see electric wires on the ground to call 9-1-1 and refrain from touching them.

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