“We have to be resilient,” said Pierre Fitzgibbons, the minister of economy, innovation and energy, during an update on the situation in Quebec following the April 5 ice storm that left over 1 million Quebecers without electricity.
As of Saturday morning, Hydro Québec had reconnected over 800,000 customers, but for those still in the dark, Fitzgibbons said, “It is going to take a little bit more time.” At this point, Hydro Quebec is not able to predict when all its customers will be reconnected, and the utilities company is not shying away from admitting there will be some without power on Monday.
As a result, Fitzgibbons announced that grocery stores would be able to open on Easter Sunday exceptionally in six regions across the province, including the Montérégie, to allow those without electricity to access fresh food.
Over 1,500 workers will be on the ground throughout the day on Saturday with the goal of restoring service to over 1 million homes and businesses by Sunday.
“The rhythm of our restorations will be slower from what we saw in the last 48 hours,” said Maxime Nadeau, the director of energy system control at Hydro Québec. He explained that the bulk of the distribution system had been restored, and workers were now turning their focus to individual outages where a smaller number of customers are affected.
“Some of these outages take more time to repair, and it is more difficult to move people to be able to intervene at those points in our system,” said Nadeau, who noted workers in the field are doing everything they can to restore power as quickly as possible. He confirmed that most of the service interruptions had been caused by tree branches falling on wires and damaging equipment.
As of 1 p.m. on Saturday, there were 738 interruptions, or outages, throughout the Montérégie region, where 32,415 customers remained without electricity. There were 704 customers in the Haut-Saint-Laurent waiting for 39 interruptions to be repaired and reconnected. The municipality of Saint-Anicet remains the hardest hit, with 392 customers still in the dark due to 17 interruptions.
There were 22,548 customers in Vaudreuil-Soulanges without electricity as a result of 497 interruptions and at least 1,558 clients in Beauharnois-Salaberry, where 82 interruptions are waiting to be restored.
During the update, which was streamed live on social media, Fitzgibbons encouraged the Hydro Québec workers on the ground, and congratulated the municipalities throughout the province, saying many had been working to ease the situation. “I am very impressed by how the community has responded,” he said.
In Ormstown, the municipality worked with the Ormstown Legion to offer hot soup, coffee and hot chocolate to those without electricity on Friday evening. The Kitschin Café-Boutique was also offering hot and nutritious meals at their location in Ormstown, with a possibility of delivery. The Huntingdon Legion was opened as a refuge on Friday, where residents could enjoy soup, sandwiches and snacks while charging their phones. Most municipalities opened their town halls or municipal buildings to those without power as warming stations where people could charge their personal devices.