Crews work to re­store lost ‘lifeline’ af­ter week­end ice storm

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - JONATHAN SHER POST­MEDIA NEWS

Some of the more than 20,000 South­west­ern On­tario cus­tomers left in the dark Mon­day by freez­ing rain that ham­mered the Lon­don re­gion will have to wait un­til Tues­day evening for elec­tric­ity to be re­stored.

Most of Lon­don was spared from power in­ter­rup­tions dur­ing the week­end ice storm, but some com­mu­ni­ties in the re­gion lost mul­ti­ple util­ity poles along sin­gle lines.

And while Hy­dro One re­sponded with more than 1,400 peo­ple across the prov­ince, ef­forts at restora­tion were slowed by the con­tin­u­ing bad weather, which grounded he­li­copters that would oth­er­wise fly in re­place­ment poles.

“Mul­ti­ple poles are down (in some South­west­ern On­tario com­mu­ni­ties),” Hy­dro One spokesper­son Nancy Clark said.

Hy­dro One ex­pected to re­store power Mon­day to most of its cus­tomers, in­clud­ing many of the 15,000 cus­tomers in Huron County who lost power, but some cus­tomers at the end of smaller lines faced out­ages ex­pected to last un­til about 6 p.m. Tues­day.

Hy­dro One ex­pected and planned for the com­bi­na­tion of ice, snow and wind that snapped tree limbs and util­ity poles alike, Clark said, ar­rang­ing for ex­tra crews and lin­ing up other util­i­ties to help. Other ar­eas hit hard by power out­ages in the Lon­don re­gion in­cluded Aylmer, Beachville and Strathroy. Re­pair worked was also slowed be­cause On­tario Hy­dro had to pre­pare to help eastern On­tario com­mu­ni­ties that were ex­pected to be hit by the win­tery storm later in the day Mon­day, Clark said. “Crews have been work­ing around the clock to re­store power to our cus­tomers. We know that elec­tric­ity is a lifeline for many fam­i­lies in the win­ter, es­pe­cially for those who de­pend on elec­tric heat. It’s all hands on deck un­til ev­ery last cus­tomer has their power back,” Greg Ki­raly, the util­ity’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, said Sun­day. Among those los­ing power were two dozen Thames Val­ley District pub­lic and Lon­don District Catholic schools, of­fi­cials there re­port.

Bus ser­vices were also can­celled to many schools in the re­gion around Lon­don.

The same storm also played havoc on area wa­ter­ways, in­clud­ing shore­line ar­eas along Lake Erie in Chatham-Kent and Es­sex County.

“If you look at this sys­tem com­ing up from the south, it’s like a wa­ter ma­chine com­ing up,” said Teresa Hollingsworth, cor­po­rate ser­vices man­ager for the Up­per Thames River Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity.

South­west­ern On­tario has been pounded with a half a month’s rain­fall in just three days, En­vi­ron­ment Canada me­te­o­rol­o­gist Ge­off Coul­son said Sun­day.

Snow and show­ers are ex­pected Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, while a high of 7 C is fore­cast for Fri­day, ush­er­ing in a week­end of sun and higher tem­per­a­tures.

Hy­dro One cus­tomers look­ing for in­for­ma­tion on power out­ages can call 1-800-434-1235, down­load the free Hy­dro One power out­age app or visit www.Hy­droOne.com/ storm­cen­ter. Cus­tomers can also reg­is­ter to re­ceive per­sonal text or email alerts about power out­ages at Hy­droOne.com/My­Ac­count.

CORY SMITH/THE BEA­CON HER­ALD

Two days of freez­ing rain and ice pel­lets knocked down trees in Strat­ford and area, in­clud­ing this pine tree on Perth Line 35.

MIKE HENSEN/POST­MEDIA NEWS

A Lon­don fire depart­ment in­flat­able boat pow­ers up the Thames River Mon­day be­neath the Ox­ford Street bridge. Three wa­ter res­cue units took to the high wa­ter of the Thames to prac­tise their skills. Sta­tions 2, 3 and 6 brought their var­i­ous res­cue ves­sels to Har­ris Park be­fore head­ing up­stream to prac­tise near the bridge.

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