Ottawa Storm 2022: ‘Crushed’ — Hydro Ottawa expects two to four more days to restore power to most of Ottawa

“There is not a single square inch of our service territory that has not been negatively affected by this event.”

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Saturday’s mighty storm ‘crushed’ the local power grid in a citywide event worse than the 1998 ice storm and 2018 tornadoes, and turning on lights for the most part could s extend through the end of the week, Hydro Ottawa said.

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“There is not a single square inch of our service territory that has not been negatively impacted by this event,” President and CEO Bryce Conrad said at a press conference Monday after- noon.

The impact of the ice storm was largely rural. The tornadoes destroyed the Merivale Power Station and damaged poles nearby, leaving Barrhaven, for example, pitch black. But the utility knew the suburbs would “light up” when provincial grid supply was restored.

“In this case, we have full supply from the provincial grid,” Conrad said. “It’s just that our own service territory, our own distribution system, has just been crushed.”

A total of 187 poles were knocked down – more than during the ice storm, more than during the tornadoes, and more poles collectively than are knocked down in a year. Weather observers reported hurricane-force gusts over a wide area.

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“We’re anticipating, or anticipating, a two to four day outage from now – so yeah, the latter part of this week hopefully we’ll have the vast majority of the service territory restored,” Conrad said.

On Monday afternoon, Hydro Ottawa reported that power had been restored to more than 70,000 customers, leaving about 110,000 still in the dark. All available utility staff and contractors are working, joined by workers from the Greater Toronto Area, Kingston and New Brunswick, Hydro Ottawa said.

Critical institutions including the Queensway Carleton Hospital, The Royal, Perley Health, the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Center and the Ottawa Airport were back online and no longer reliant on generators. Major failures take priority.

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There will be areas of the city where houses are too damaged to safely power. Given the extent of damage to trees and distribution equipment, even when Hydro Ottawa is satisfied that a feeder line is ready to be energized, crews will re-inspect the line to ensure that there are no obstacles.

“If we activate that line and there’s something there, someone will die,” Conrad said. “It could cause deaths or fires. The last thing we want to do is take that risk. … We will work around the clock until they are completed.

Several people died in and around the National Capital Region during and after the storm.

The Ottawa Police Service said it is investigating the death of a 59-year-old man on a golf course in the west after a tree fell on him on Saturday. Two people were seriously injured on separate golf courses on Saturday, police said.

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Ottawa police, meanwhile, have stepped up patrols in dark residential and commercial neighborhoods but have not noticed an increase in crime.

Gatineau emergency crews also responded on Saturday after a boat capsized on the Ottawa River while carrying two people, one of whom died.

The Ontario Provincial Police reports that an 80-year-old woman identified as Gail Greene died in Lanark County on Sunday afternoon after being struck by a falling tree branch. The police department, which did not link the woman’s death to the storm, said her death was not suspicious and an investigation is ongoing.

The OPP also responded to a call about a fallen tree in the Renfrew-Greater Madawaska area that resulted in the death of a 44-year-old man on Saturday.

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Hydro One, which supplies electricity to areas surrounding Ottawa, said Sunday crews were working to build a temporary bypass to restore power to local communities after four transmission towers collapsed.

The utility found damage to at least 1,000 poles and at least as many downed power lines, and as of Monday night was still grappling with outages in the area with crews and contractors from across Ontario descending into the hardest hit areas of central and eastern Ontario.

“Restoration efforts are expected to continue for several days before power is restored to all customers,” Hydro One said.

In Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson encouraged residents to pave the way for restoration by working from home if they have power, noting that the city and federal government are encouraging telecommuting.

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Ottawa’s English-language Catholic and public boards closed schools on Tuesday, citing safety concerns, while two French-language school boards headquartered in Ottawa but serving parts of eastern Ontario will see some schools closed, while others less affected by the storm will be open.

Many municipal services will be closed.

Three dozen roads remained closed Monday afternoon due to downed wires, with “dozens and dozens” of traffic lights still out.

The mayor greeted city and hydro personnel working over the long weekend and neighbors helping neighbors by helping with cleanup, watching over the elderly or providing coffee or a place to charge a phone. Firefighters are carrying out door-to-door wellness checks and will assist with cleanup efforts.

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“Our residents continue to shine the brightest when conditions seem bleakest,” Watson said. “Please continue to take care of each other.”

Visitor centers in the city’s community and recreation centers will be open again on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., offering services such as power to charge devices and toilets, most with wifi, and in some case of showers, food and assistance from the Red Cross.

Four sites offer bottled water to rural residents who have lost the use of their wells and two have oxygen for residents who cannot fill their tanks on time.

Getting rid of spoiled food, a potential health hazard, is the priority for many residents. The city will be rolling out a green bin collection blitz in the coming days to ensure organic waste is collected quickly in hard-hit parts of Stittsville, Knoxdale-Merivale, River and Cumberland neighborhoods.

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Other residents are asked to use their green bins for disposal of spoiled food and large bins will be set up Tuesday at the Navan Memorial Center, CARDELREC Complex, Hunt Club-Riverside Park Community Center and Howard Darwin Centennial Arena .

The Trail Trash Facility will waive tipping fees for storm-related debris.

Alain Gonthier, general manager of public works, said public works staff are first focusing on clearing roads, emergency lanes and downed trees so that power can be restored.

“It’s going to be weeks before the cleanup is complete, but everyone is on deck.”

— With Postmedia staff files

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