Terrible weather brings down power lines, closes schools
Published Wednesday, February 24, 2016 10:42PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 26, 2016 7:59AM EST
The Hill family lives in St. Lazare and they haven’t had electricity since Wednesday evening. But they’re trying to make the most of the situation – keeping warm by fire, lighting candles and cooking their meals outdoors during a camp stove and barbecue.
“We've been very fortunate, it's not too cold and we've actually been able to take advantage of it in terms of spending some quality time together,” said David Hill.
More than 250,000 Quebec households lost power Wednesday night and Thursday morning as freezing rain brought down trees and branches across the province, and some people have electricity until late Friday night.
The majority of the outages were in the Lanaudiere, Laurentians and the Quebec City region, but there are also thousands without power in most sectors of Quebec. While many thousand people are back online, thousands more are in the dark. Hydro says most customers across the province should have their lights back on by 11 p.m. Friday.
With temperatures expected to drop Thursday night, the town of Hudson has opened the community centre to residents in search of warmth. The centre will be open until power is restored to those who have lost it.
Hydro Quebec says branches coming into contact with power lines due to freezing rain and high winds are to blame for the outages.
Hydro spokesperson Serge Abergel said 280 crews were working around the province.
"Generally speaking, the Montreal area, we've seen improvement in the temperature, the temperature is working with us, it's warmer. Our crews expect to have everything back to normal this afternoon," said Abergel.
The area with the most outages was in the Laurentians, and while some areas will get power back by this evening, some areas will be without power until Saturday.
"Literally trees falling on our installations. That will take longer in those specific cases," Abergel said.
With streets already full of snow and ice, the heavy rain that fell on Wednesday flooded streets.
Sidewalks are a slick and treacherous surface in many areas, even though plows have removed snow and spread abrasives.
On many streets the sewers are hidden under snow and ice, so water has created ponds on street corners and at the end of driveways.
The floods didn't stop many drivers from hurrying through streets at a quick pace, soaking everyone in their path.
The city says it has extra crews spreading abrasives, but even then it's still slippery and hospital ER's are dealing with the ice-related injuries.
“It's usually wrist, back, ankles, is a big one and the head traumas, people fall down and bang their heads,” said Dr. Frederic Dankoff with the MUHC.
School children make up one segment of the population who may be happy about the poor weather; the power failures forced many schools to close on Thursday, meaning an extra day of spring break.