Ice storm knocks out power; poles down

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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Electricity still out in some areas

Bonavista Deputy Mayor Doug Robbins says he's never seen anything like the damage caused by a severe ice storm that left the town of about 4,000 people without power throughout the weekend.

"It's unbelievable," he said Sunday, after a meeting with Newfoundland Power officials, where the town was told of a plan to provide temporary rotating power to the region for four to five hours at a time, using a generator in Catalina.

Bonavista Deputy Mayor Doug Robbins says he's never seen anything like the damage caused by a severe ice storm that left the town of about 4,000 people without power throughout the weekend.

"It's unbelievable," he said Sunday, after a meeting with Newfoundland Power officials, where the town was told of a plan to provide temporary rotating power to the region for four to five hours at a time, using a generator in Catalina.

"Newfoundland Power says it's the worst storm in over 20 years," Robbins said. "We lost power a couple of years ago, but I never saw it this bad."

Power isn't expected to be fully restored to much of the peninsula until late Tuesday.

In addition to losing electricity, home phone service and cellphone service was also down for much of the weekend in the Bonavista area.

In order to conserve power at the Bonavista Peninsula Health Centre, Eastern Health announced Sunday all outpatient clinics and routine lab and X-ray appointments have been cancelled for today and Tuesday.

"The hospital has been operating well on generator power," said media relations manager Deborah Collins. "However, these non-urgent services have been temporarily postponed as a precautionary measure."

Clinics at the Community Health Nurse Office in Bonavista have also been cancelled for today and Tuesday.

Patients will be notified regarding the rescheduling of their clinic, lab and X-ray appointments.

Collins said the hospital emergency department is open for anyone in need of urgent or emergency care.

The ice storm also affected many other communities in the areas of Whitbourne, Conception Bay North and Cape Shore, the Sunnyside, Clarenville and Bonavista areas and in the central region, Gander, Glenwood, Twillingate and New-Wes-Valley.

Newfoundland Power crews were struggling to get power turned back on in the Conception Bay North and Bonavista Peninsula areas Sunday as bad weather hampered their efforts.

Michele Coughlan, a spokeswoman for Newfoundland Power, said Sunday evening it would take longer to restore power than first thought to the estimated 7,000 customers still in the dark.

About 1,000 customers in the Port Rexton area have had power restored through hydro generation, Coughlan says, but there was further damage to power lines and utility poles overnight. About 250 transmission lines and poles have been damaged by the ice storm.

As a temporary measure, starting Sunday evening Newfoundland Power started running power generators and were diverting power from any available hydro sources for use in the two affected areas.

Coughlan said power would likely be restored to the Conception Bay area by tonight, while the Bonavista Peninsula will possibly get its power back Tuesday evening.

Coughlan wouldn't rule out the possibility of longer outages for some areas.

Meanwhile, Sunday morning saw the end of freezing rain warnings for most of the Avalon, Burin and Bonavista peninsulas, as well as the end of other weather watches for central Newfoundland.

Environment Canada sent out a storm summary that showed massive amounts of precipitation had fallen throughout the weekend.

The Avalon Peninsula received the bulk of 100 millimetres of rain, while between 35 and 45 centimetres of snow had fallen on the northeast coast of the island over the course of the weekend.

The Gander International Airport reported 52 cms of snow fell there, while St. John's International Airport saw about 118 mm of rain.

City of St. John's officials said flooding was reported in several areas of St. John's, and Quidi Vidi Lake overflowed its banks early Saturday.

Bonavista officials have been handing out flyers to inform residents of various contingency plans. The Salvation Army building in the town has been open, serving soup and sandwiches from lunchtime to early evening, Robbins said, and the Red Cross has people stationed at Metro Elementary School in Bonavista, where a generator is providing interim power.

Robbins said several people on home dialysis machines have been staying at the school overnight. Four or five convenience stores have been open for a few hours a day and the town's pharmacy has been open from early afternoon until evening so that people can pick up supplies and medications.

Only one service station has been selling gas and when it's open, the lineups are long, Robbins said.

"Residents understand and are co-operating," he said, but he still worries about people in the town without heat in their homes, especially elderly residents.

The good news, he said, is that the freezing rain has stopped. In some areas, he said, you could drive Sunday for two hours and see no ice, but in other areas, the ice was still clinging to the trees, downed poles and wires.

amorrissey@thetelegram.com, dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Newfoundland Power, Bonavista Peninsula Health Centre, Community Health Nurse Office Environment Canada Gander International Airport The Salvation Army Red Cross Metro Elementary School

Geographic location: Bonavista, Catalina, St. John's Whitbourne Glenwood Twillingate New-Wes-Valley Port Rexton Newfoundland Quidi Vidi Lake

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Dick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Bog is easy to excavate, rocks can be too, or blasted. Do it correctly the first time and you will not have the repeated expense of redoing again and again. For some cases, put underground wires in when they do town services - the ground is already opened up ! War zone you say... hey Frank did you have the side of your house blown out? Interesting that in areas that are earthquake prone (and with little wind) they put in underground wires where the most damage can be done. In areas prone to extremely high winds and freezing rain (but not prone to earthquakes) they use above ground wires hanging off half rotten wooden poles, again where most damage can be done.

  • Michelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    it is near impossible to run underground cables that far of a distance. no matter how convinent it may be. there may be a meter or less of top soil sitting on top of more rock than anyone can deal with. the cost of blasting out trenches to run theese cables would cost more than fixing the lines each year for the next hundred years.

    also, cheers to the good people who wont sit and complain with something happens that no one could control. the world needs more people like you!

  • el Cheapo Way
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Stupid wooden poles they use to hang wires off of. Cheap cheap cheap.

  • NFLD Dialect
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    That would be Matthew Elementary School in Bonavista. I totally understand how the reporter got metro, especially if it was through a telephone interview. The Bonavista dialect is quite unique. And before I get trashed for correcting the error, please note that there is no negativity in the correction unless you read into it that way. I am from the area & quite proud of our heritage, including our dialect!

  • fisherman from nl
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    you all must be pretty bored useless negative and non relevant comments is all i read on the telegram need to shut it down if you wanna just rant go find yourself a blog somewhere

  • Eugene
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Every winter, same story: a legion of broken utility poles up and down the Bonavista Penninsula. Fortis is too busy taking the profits from Newfoundland Power to buy up and build properties (where they're not wanted) to actually put a reliable (can I hear buried electrical cables!?!?!?!) infrastructure into place. I asked Newfoundland Power why they wouldn't do this (cable) and was told it was too expensive. The question is: Why is it too expensive to provide a reliable service to that base from which you earn your income?

  • Sea-Dog
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Answer me this--how come most of the poles were rotten to start with?? i know that it was a bad storm but having rotten poles is of no help at all

  • Member of the 80%
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Kudos to the NL power crews, extreamly difficult work in some of the worst conditions on the planet.

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I cannot see one of these people in the above photo with a tool or anything in their hands!!! They are just standing around!!! Probably trying to decide whos job it is to pick up the wire and whos job it is to put up a new pole...

  • Wake
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    some of the worst conditions on the planet

    What have you been huffing? You have no idea. Seems like they have roads to get to these locations, no earthquake or hurricanes or floods to deal with. These are Union Bums that do not want to get the job done and nothing more. Wake up, or come on out and bring a generator rather then sittin on yur bulbous butt spewing forth crap.

  • NL what the heck are you
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    What?!

  • Jo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I can't believe how many idiots there are complaining about this situation and looking for someone to blame it on. There was a storm, the power went out, it will come back on. It's just that simple. There isn't some supreme being who can wave a magic wand and instantly repair all the damage from this storm. All you complainers are nothing but spoiled rotten brats expecting the world to do everything for them while they sit in front of the computers looking for someone else to put down. 'Wake Up' and 'Graham'... get over yourselves!

  • member of the 20%
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    fisherman from nl from nl: a little punctuation would go a long way in making your comment understandable. Stop whining and complaining.

    I definitely think Fortis COULD install underground cables and still be profitable, or AT LEAST stop using WOODEN poles.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    We have to admit that Mother Nature can rip down the largest of telephone poles and uproot concrete electrical foundations. It is very obvious that no one is prepared to challenge the unpredictable winds, rain, snow and ice storms. We cannot blame the Light and power corporations. Let,s be a matter of fact that when Mother Nature growls you never know for how long and what damage it plans to do to our livelihoods.

    When the earth growls beneath us we may have less of a chance to escape. The best we can do is try and help each other to survive the discomforts and get on with our lives.
    I experienced the Ice Storm in Quebec (LaSalle) in 1998. This was a real war zone and the surroundings were so dangerous we had to stay at home. However, We survived very well as I put to good use all the facilities I had like old kerosine lanterns and lamps. I put the old potbelly stove in working order and we were in style with good old Newfoundland traditions in the making. It did not take long to warmup and prepare a few pots of homemade soup to share with the neighbours who were just devastated.

    We never know what the future may have in store for us weather wise, but the most we can do is stop complaining and help each other when necessary.

  • Dick
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Bog is easy to excavate, rocks can be too, or blasted. Do it correctly the first time and you will not have the repeated expense of redoing again and again. For some cases, put underground wires in when they do town services - the ground is already opened up ! War zone you say... hey Frank did you have the side of your house blown out? Interesting that in areas that are earthquake prone (and with little wind) they put in underground wires where the most damage can be done. In areas prone to extremely high winds and freezing rain (but not prone to earthquakes) they use above ground wires hanging off half rotten wooden poles, again where most damage can be done.

  • Michelle
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    it is near impossible to run underground cables that far of a distance. no matter how convinent it may be. there may be a meter or less of top soil sitting on top of more rock than anyone can deal with. the cost of blasting out trenches to run theese cables would cost more than fixing the lines each year for the next hundred years.

    also, cheers to the good people who wont sit and complain with something happens that no one could control. the world needs more people like you!

  • el Cheapo Way
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Stupid wooden poles they use to hang wires off of. Cheap cheap cheap.

  • NFLD Dialect
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    That would be Matthew Elementary School in Bonavista. I totally understand how the reporter got metro, especially if it was through a telephone interview. The Bonavista dialect is quite unique. And before I get trashed for correcting the error, please note that there is no negativity in the correction unless you read into it that way. I am from the area & quite proud of our heritage, including our dialect!

  • fisherman from nl
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    you all must be pretty bored useless negative and non relevant comments is all i read on the telegram need to shut it down if you wanna just rant go find yourself a blog somewhere

  • Eugene
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Every winter, same story: a legion of broken utility poles up and down the Bonavista Penninsula. Fortis is too busy taking the profits from Newfoundland Power to buy up and build properties (where they're not wanted) to actually put a reliable (can I hear buried electrical cables!?!?!?!) infrastructure into place. I asked Newfoundland Power why they wouldn't do this (cable) and was told it was too expensive. The question is: Why is it too expensive to provide a reliable service to that base from which you earn your income?

  • Sea-Dog
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Answer me this--how come most of the poles were rotten to start with?? i know that it was a bad storm but having rotten poles is of no help at all

  • Member of the 80%
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Kudos to the NL power crews, extreamly difficult work in some of the worst conditions on the planet.

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I cannot see one of these people in the above photo with a tool or anything in their hands!!! They are just standing around!!! Probably trying to decide whos job it is to pick up the wire and whos job it is to put up a new pole...

  • Wake
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    some of the worst conditions on the planet

    What have you been huffing? You have no idea. Seems like they have roads to get to these locations, no earthquake or hurricanes or floods to deal with. These are Union Bums that do not want to get the job done and nothing more. Wake up, or come on out and bring a generator rather then sittin on yur bulbous butt spewing forth crap.

  • NL what the heck are you
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    What?!

  • Jo
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I can't believe how many idiots there are complaining about this situation and looking for someone to blame it on. There was a storm, the power went out, it will come back on. It's just that simple. There isn't some supreme being who can wave a magic wand and instantly repair all the damage from this storm. All you complainers are nothing but spoiled rotten brats expecting the world to do everything for them while they sit in front of the computers looking for someone else to put down. 'Wake Up' and 'Graham'... get over yourselves!

  • member of the 20%
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    fisherman from nl from nl: a little punctuation would go a long way in making your comment understandable. Stop whining and complaining.

    I definitely think Fortis COULD install underground cables and still be profitable, or AT LEAST stop using WOODEN poles.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    We have to admit that Mother Nature can rip down the largest of telephone poles and uproot concrete electrical foundations. It is very obvious that no one is prepared to challenge the unpredictable winds, rain, snow and ice storms. We cannot blame the Light and power corporations. Let,s be a matter of fact that when Mother Nature growls you never know for how long and what damage it plans to do to our livelihoods.

    When the earth growls beneath us we may have less of a chance to escape. The best we can do is try and help each other to survive the discomforts and get on with our lives.
    I experienced the Ice Storm in Quebec (LaSalle) in 1998. This was a real war zone and the surroundings were so dangerous we had to stay at home. However, We survived very well as I put to good use all the facilities I had like old kerosine lanterns and lamps. I put the old potbelly stove in working order and we were in style with good old Newfoundland traditions in the making. It did not take long to warmup and prepare a few pots of homemade soup to share with the neighbours who were just devastated.

    We never know what the future may have in store for us weather wise, but the most we can do is stop complaining and help each other when necessary.