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Greater Sudbury sends crews to help storm-battered southern Ontario

By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Dec 22, 2013 - 5:15 PM |
Snow and wind are in the forecast for the next 24 hours in Sudbury, which has largely escaped the worst of the winter storms that has left 250,000 without power in southern Ontario.  Darren MacDonald photo.

Snow and wind are in the forecast for the next 24 hours in Sudbury, which has largely escaped the worst of the winter storms that has left 250,000 without power in southern Ontario. Darren MacDonald photo.

City feels effects of major ice storm that left 250,000 without power

A suspected blown fuse left about 100 Greater Sudbury Hydro customers in Gatchell without power for a few hours Sunday, as the effects of a storm battering southern Ontario and much of eastern Canada reached Greater Sudbury.

And 20 Hydro One customers were in the dark for a few hours in Whitefish, where the power was restored by early evening, the utility said in a news release Sunday.

A winter storm warning is in effect for Sudbury overnight, when blowing snow and another five centimetres of the white stuff is expected to hit the region. Winds will gust to 40 km/hr, making the -16 C temperatures feel like -29 C with the wind chill.

Despite the conditions, Greater Sudbury Police Services said there were no weather-related collisions Saturday or Sunday.

Down south, the situation is far worse, where thousands of people are without power as a result of one of the worst ice storms in recent memory. Some flights to Toronto from the Greater Sudbury Airport were cancelled or delayed Sunday. And according to Toronto Hydro's Twitter feed, more than 250,000 were without hydro Sunday afternoon, with no reliable estimate for when power will come back on.

“No specific restoration times available,” the utility tweeted. “Restoration will occur in stages -- electrical emergencies and vulnerable customers first ... Please plan for up to 72 hours.”

However, even the 72-hour scenario may be optimistic, and the utility urged customers to prepare for a longer outage.

“Toronto Hydro is asking customers to prepare for the worst-case scenario,” it said in a release. “While the utility hopes to have everyone restored by Wednesday, it is asking customers to make alternate arrangements, if possible.”

It also urged people with power to “share” with neighbours and friends who are in the dark by inviting them over, and to check on ill or elderly loved ones who may need help.

The situation is serious enough that Greater Sudbury Hydro is sending two crews -- a total of five men -- plus equipment to help Hydro One get the power back up after Saturday's ice storm. The local crews are heading to Guelph, the utility said Sunday, and will be joined by crews being sent from Peterborough and Ottawa.

“From time to time, we’re called on to lend a hand when the scale of damage in an area exceeds the local utilities’ ability to get things back up in a reasonable amount of time,” Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli, who's GSH board chair, said in a release. “Hydro One has to repair massive damage affecting an enormous number of people in a huge geographic area, and they need more trucks and people to get it done as quickly as possible. We’re happy to be in a position to help. You never know when it might be us putting out a call for assistance.”

Sudbury is sending the crews with a single-bucket truck, a double-bucket truck and a half-ton.

“Due to the complex situation in Southern Ontario at the moment, there is no concrete information on when they will return,” the release said. “However everyone is hoping to be back in time for Christmas.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released a statement Sunday, saying officials from Emergency Management Ontario are working with affected municipalities to co-ordinate efforts to restore power.

“I want to assure everyone living in these areas that all available resources are working to keep you and your families safe and to restore power as quickly as possible,” Wynne is quoted as saying.
Darren MacDonald

Darren MacDonald

Staff Writer

@Darrenmacd

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