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Tens of thousands of customers are still without power in Ontario, Quebec. Some may remain in the dark for several more weeks

Tens of thousands of customers are still without power in Ontario, Quebec.  Some may remain in the dark for several more weeks

Hydro crews work to restore power in Clarence Rockland, Ontario, Thursday, May 26, 2022.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Tens of thousands of Ontarians remain without power this weekend as hydro-power crews shift their focus to communities that suffered heavy damage during last weekend’s streak of thunderstorms that devastated parts of Ontario and Quebec.

Utility company Hydro One said restoration efforts are currently targeting some of the hardest-hit communities west of Ottawa. Across the county, about 23,000 Hydro One customers remain without power after the storm cut 1,900 record poles.

The utility company said that customers in some communities, such as Tweed and Ont. They may be without electricity for several more weeks due to the complex damage to the network in those areas.

Crews said it was easier to count a number [hydro] “The poles were left standing off those on the ground while completing the helicopter patrols,” spokeswoman Alicia Sayers said.

“In some cases, crews need to rebuild entire sections of power lines in challenging terrain, including digging through rocks to install new poles.”

said Karl Stefansky, mayor of nearby Limerick, Ont. Many of those without electricity have generators and will likely be ready for the coming weeks. Nearly 240 hydraulic poles were brought down in his town alone. He said it would take the town more than a month to clear all the debris from the storm.

“In some areas, it appears that there has been a logging operation,” Mr. Stefansky said.

Across county borders, Hydro Quebec said on its website that it had restored service for about 92 percent of the 554,000 customers affected “at the height” of the storm. At the same time, she noted, “new outages” were reported on Saturday in Laurentians. Its website did not say when it expects to fully restore power.

In Ottawa, about 19,000 customers remained without power. Hydro Ottawa said it was aiming to return power to most customers by Friday night, but eventually pushed back the target date for most customers to the end of this week.

But in some particularly affected neighborhoods, utilities have yet to set a firm schedule for repairs.

Hydro Ottawa said the work that crews completed last week would take six months under normal circumstances, adding that crews have been shipped from other jurisdictions across the country to help work around the clock on the repairs.

She added that 400 of its water poles were dropped in the storm, which is roughly the amount of service the utility company would serve in an entire year.

Debris from a building is pictured in an adjacent wooden yard in a photo taken with a drone in a neighborhood of Hammond, Ontario, Thursday, May 26, 2022.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Joseph Muglia, director of system operation and network automation at Hydro Ottawa, said the storm was unique because the damage did not follow a specific path or pattern.

Environment Canada said the storm, which left 11 people dead, was Derecho – a broad line of thunderstorms that can cause as much damage as a hurricane or hurricane.

“It is amazing how inconsequential this storm was,” said Mr. Muglia, noting that affected neighborhoods are scattered across the city.

“Even in hurricanes, you can see the path they took. But this time because it was Derecho, it hit us in a completely different way.”

The neighborhoods left without electricity are mainly those with mature trees that have fallen and caused extensive damage to the electrical infrastructure.

Even Ottawa residents who have backup generators said they are struggling.

Chantal Charlebois said she was lucky to be able to use her father’s generator for five hours, but many service stations ran out of fuel in the first days after the storm. Her father had to check seven stations before finding gasoline.

Even with a generator, Ms. Charlebois said she boils water for her family to take warm baths and often cooks on the barbecue. Ensuring that all of her family’s devices are charged is another issue.

“At least not in winter and there is no heat. Or it may be very hot, but it is not,” said Ms. Charlebois, who plans to buy her own generator after the ordeal.

“The hardest thing is not knowing when the power will come back.”

Mackenzie Walsh, an Ottawa resident who works from home, said he has not been able to work all week because his job requires a secure internet connection. He said he has to walk around to find coffee shops just to keep his phone charged.

He was one of the lucky Ottawa residents who regained his strength on Friday night.

“Waiting for him to come back has been exhausting,” said Mr. Walsh.

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