City officials say most residents are expected to get their power back in two to three days, following a devastating, fatal storm powered through the region over the weekend.
In a virtual news conference late Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Jim Watson said at the rate crews are currently working, it’s anticipated most residents will have their electricity restored in two to three days. Cleanup of fallen trees and debris, he added, will take several weeks.
Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad said again Tuesday he hoped the vast majority of residents will see power restored between Wednesday and Friday.
Hydro Ottawa’s director of system operations, Joseph Muglia, reiterated during the news conference that while he hopes most residents will see power in the next few days, it may take longer for some homes with major damage, and for those running power on their own equipment. Crews continue to work 24/7, he says.
Muglia said about 36,000 Ottawa residents have had their power restored since his update on Monday. About 74,000 customers are still without power as of Tuesday afternoon.
Across the wider region, 150,000 customers were still without power in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region as of noon ET Tuesday.
Alain Gonthier, the city’s general manager of public works, said all available resources have been deployed to focus on three major tasks: restoring transportation, collecting food waste, and removing debris.
He said several hundred traffic signals are still not working.
“Clearing up after a storm as severe as this one is an enormous undertaking. It will take us several weeks to be able to get through it,” said Gonthier.
WATCH | Hydro Ottawa operations director describes extent of damage:
City officials say about eight families have asked to be relocated as a result of the storm, and they’ve been “supported.” About 2,000 people used city emergency facilities on Monday, said Kim Ayotte, general manager of emergency and protective services.
“The numbers have reduced a bit today as the power starts to come back on,” he said. “I still suspect numbers will be well over 1,000.”
Emergency centres have been opened to help people access electricity and water, and municipalities are working to handle debris and food waste.
Food kept in powered-down freezers has spoiled and there are challenges when it comes to getting fuel. The city is continuing its green bin “collection blitz,” collecting organic food waste in neighbourhoods most affected by the storm.
The City of Ottawa continues to ask people to avoid non-essential travel. Many schools were closed in and around Ottawa Tuesday because of the travel and power challenges.
This kind of storm, with winds that peaked at 120 km/h at the Ottawa International Airport, is known as a derecho: “a widespread long-lived windstorm associated with a line of thunderstorms,” according to Environment Canada.