Thousands without power in N.L. after ice storm draws comparison to 1984

The Canadian Press ~ The News
Published on March 8, 2010
Ice-laden power lines are shown near Conception Bay North, N.L.on Saturday, March 6, 2010. About 7,000 customers remained without power in northeastern Newfoundland today after a severe ice storm that hit the area on Friday brought down power lines and poles.  Photo by The Canadian Press

Thousands of Newfoundland Power customers remain off the grid in the aftermath of an ice storm that brought down power lines and poles in the eastern part of the province.
Utility spokeswoman Michele Coughlan said about 5,500 customers didn't have electricity on Monday morning in the Bonavista Peninsula and in the Conception Bay North area.
Coughlan said that number is down from about 7,000 on Sunday, thanks to the use of a portable generating system and some local hydro plants.
She noted, however, that some of the power available Monday would be rotated from one community to another as crews continue to make permanent repairs.
She said it will still be another day or so before everything is back to normal.
"But even having said that, there will be some small areas that have what we call distribution problems as well - that may take a little bit longer," said Coughlan.
About 250 power lines and transmission structures were damaged by the ice when the storm hit the region on Friday.
Coughlan said Monday's weather could help the repair crews as sunshine could help melt some of the ice off the lines.
"Otherwise, what we're faced with is manually trying to remove that, which, of course, makes the progress just that much slower."
Harry Strong, the mayor of Old Perlican, said his community has fared OK through the outage.
"Most people have alternate supplies of heat ... wood stoves or generators or propane, things like that," said Strong. "So basically, we're OK.
"I don't know, with regards to refrigerators and deep freezes, things like that might be a problem."
Coughlan said the ice crews are dealing with is the worst they have seen in more than 25 years.
"Nineteen-eighty-four is probably the last time that they saw ice to this level," she said. "We've got employees, linespeople with 30-plus years saying it's the worst they've ever seen. So it was quite an extensive storm."
Hearts Content Mayor Don Blundel has surveyed the damage and was surprised by what he saw.
"It's a real eye opener," he said. "It's a real bit of devastation."