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Nova Scotia Power hopes to restore all storm-related outages by week’s end


Karen Hutt, the CEO of Nova Scotia, leaves the podium after delivering an update Tuesda in Halifax on the power restoration efforts in the wake of hurricane Dorian. - John McPhee
Karen Hutt, the CEO of Nova Scotia Power, leaves the podium after delivering an update Tuesday in Halifax on the power restoration efforts in the wake of hurricane Dorian. HRM Mayor Mike Savage and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, background, also spoke at the news conference. - John McPhee

Just under 63,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still in the dark Wednesday morning, four days after hurricane Dorian blew through the province.

“We hope we’re going into tomorrow with somewhere around 50,000 customers left to be restored,” the utility’s CEO Karen Hutt said at a news conference Tuesday in Halifax where officials provided an update on the Dorian cleanup.

The utility planned to concentrate on the bigger outages Tuesday and Wednesday, which would leave what Hutt called the “one-off” outages.

“I can tell you when we left the EOC (emergency operations centre), we had about 5,400 one-offs, so that means we have (5,400) customers that we need to figure out.”

Hutt said the plan was to have all customers would have their power back by week’s end.

“We’ll be working with our customers throughout the course of this week to make sure they know exactly what’s going on,” Hutt said, which will include personal phone calls to the customers still without power.

The issue of phone service has come up as a sore point with many cellular and landline customers who have lost service because of the power system problems.

For example, phone lines were down at many health-care facilities across the province including Eastern Shore Memorial in Sheet Harbour and Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton.

In a news release Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority asked for the public’s patience as it worked to fix the problems.

Premier Stephen McNeil said the phone outages and other problems will be discussed at a future “post-mortem” on the effects of Saturday’s post-tropical storm.

“I think it’s fair that all Nova Scotians have not seen a weather event like this for quite some time,” he said. “The physical infrastructure damage that happened from one end of the province to the other is unprecendented. Everyone is working to the best ability to restore power as quickly as possible, to restore telephone communications as quickly as possible.”

EMO executive director Paul Mason said “good progress” had been seen over the past few days on the storm cleanup and that comfort centres for people affected by the storm remained open in many parts of the province.

“We will continue to work diligently with all of our various stakeholders,” Mason said, adding a reminder to the public to be mindful of the various cleanup projects that are ongoing. “There’s a lot of heavy equipment and still some trees and wires and what-have-you, so we just encourage people to be cognizant of that as we move through this event.”

Canadian Armed Forces members are helping with the cleanup. Capt. Guillaume Lafrance, chief of staff for Joint Task Force Atlantic, said as work in Halifax winds down, the soldiers will move to other parts of the province.

“We have a permanent presence in the armouries in Yarmouth, Bridgewater, Amherst, Port Hawkesbury and Sydney, with the bulk of the force still located in Halifax,” Lafrance said at the news conference.

Over the next two days, the military is expected to concentrate on cleanup in the Bridgewater area. As of Tuesday, there were 380 troops assigned to the operation and Lafrance expects another 70 reservists from Nova Scotia will be added to the team.

HRM Mayor Mike Savage, Ancel Langille, senior manager of emergency management programs for Atlantic Region Canadian Red Cross and Erica Fleck, assistant chief of community risk reduction and logistics for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, also attended the news conference.

Both McNeil and Savage credited the organizations involved in the cleanup, operating the comfort centres and other work.

“I really thank everybody for an extraordinary effort,” Savage said. “We have lots to do but we’ll get it done.”

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