Power utility focuses on restoring power to hospitals, long-term care homes and high population sectors
Hydro-Québec is aiming to restore power to at least three-quarters of the customers who were plunged into the dark after Wednesday's ice storm.
"All human, technical and financial resources are being deployed to reconnect customers as quickly as possible," said the public utility's president and CEO Sophie Brochu during a Thursday news conference.
This comes after freezing rain, snow and strong wind gusts swept through southern Quebec on Wednesday, cutting electricity to over a million customers.
Hydro-Québec officials are scheduled to hold a news conference Friday morning at 11 a.m. to give an update on the situation.
Premier François Legault said while many people will have power restored by Friday evening, he expected 300- to 350,000 customers could still be without electricity over the weekend.
Officials said Thursday that Hydro-Québec's first priority is to ensure public safety by attending to major hazards like fallen wires in roadways.
Next, crews will focus on restoring power to places like hospitals, long-term care homes and seniors' residences. From there, they will prioritize areas with high concentrations of customers.
About 25 percent of all network interruptions affect 1,000 subscribers or more as Hydro-Québec crews scramble to attend to dozens of service interruptions spread throughout the network. The outages were largely caused by branches and trees falling on power lines.
Tree surgeons have been called in to assist electrical crews.
Régis Tellier, vice-president of operations and maintenance for Hydro-Québec, said the storm caused many small outages rather than interrupting main lines.
"There are no breaks on strategic assets," said Pierre Fitzgibbon, minister of economy, innovation and energy. Overall, he said, the situation is "very well managed."
But with Montreal experiencing half of the province's power outages, he added, "obviously, it's a crisis."
Public Security Minister François Bonnardel said crews were on the ground some 72 hours in advance, preparing for what he described as a "mini ice storm."
Environment Canada reports that up to 35 millimetres of freezing precipitation fell on Montreal.
On the South Shore, between 15 and 25 millimetres fell on the Montérégie region. Up to 30 millimetres in the Outaouais region.
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