Fredericton runway reopens for night flights as power outages continue in province

Fredericton runway reopens for night flights as power outages continue in province
More than 1500 still without power 5 days after N.B. storm
Thursday, November 8, 2018, 9:11 AM – Its been five days since a major wind storm hit the province and more than 1,500 NB Power customers are still without electricity. Close to 1,000 of the customers affected by power outages are in the Fredericton area.

“All of the larger outages have been restored and we are now working on the more remote customers,” said Marc Belliveau, spokesperson for NB Power. “Our strategy now is to attempt to reach the longest outages [those who have been out since Saturday].”

The strong winds on Saturday night knocked out power to roughly 100,000 households across the province.

The utility said more than 300 crews from New Brunswick and outside the province are working to restore power on Thursday.

( The utility said trees and branches have fallen on many power lines, particularly in the Fredericton area – Shane Fowler/CBC)

“In locations where the outages have been restored, the crews have been moved to areas that still have outages,” said Belliveau.

The utility has said a few rural areas wouldnt get power back until Thursday, because power lines are in areas that are harder for crews to access.

Belliveau said a weather system that happened overnight on Tuesday, also impacted an additional 1,000 NB Power customers that werent initially affected by weekend outages.

“Trees that may have been laying on wires in remote areas that werent shorting out the lines, finally did short out the lines,” he said.

“Or in some cases trees or branches that had been hanging near the lines and damaged since Saturday, finally toppled onto the lines.”

Close to 34,000 NB Power customers were still without electricity Monday afternoon after strong winds hit New Brunswick over the weekend, but the Fredericton Airport expected to resume flights Monday night after lights were restored to one of its runways. 

NB Power was slowly whittling down the number of customers that lost power after a weekend wind storm that also kept some schools from opening Monday morning. 

The airport announced that a runway closed to night flights on Sunday was again operational, and work was continuing on the electrical system. The airport said earlier that the weather did not cause the loss of runway lights but interfered with repairs.

"It's also made it a bit of an issue because those resources that we need to fix what's going on out of the airfield are in demand right across the province," said airport spokesperson Kate O'Rourke. 

Parts of the province were hit with 110-kilometre-an-hour winds Saturday night, and power was knocked out to more than 92,000 households.

More than 16,000 customers still without power are in the Fredericton area and more than 4,000 are in the Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe areas.  

Twenty-two schools, mostly in south-central and eastern New Brunswick, did not reopen Monday morning because of power outages. 

There are 200 crews working to restore power across the province throughout the day but NB Power says it still doesn't  know when power will be fully restored. For some customers, it could be well into Wednesday.

Sheila Lagacé, a spokesperson for NB Power, said crews from neighbouring provinces are expected to help.

Lagacé said most of the outages were caused by trees making contact with power lines, but there were also broken poles and downed power lines.

On Saturday night, Lisa Atkinson noticed two trees had caught fire outside her home on Jewett Street on Fredericton's north side.  

"I had sparks that were hitting my back deck [and] the firemen kept coming back, checking it out," she said.  

She's been concerned about the trees and electrical lines in her backyard for years. About seven years ago, she asked officials to clean up the area and was told there was nothing to be concerned about — and nothing was ever done.

"I have two big pine trees on the side of my home and there's many wires running through it. Mainly, I understand, it's cable and phone lines running through it but there's also the electrical running through it as well.

"That's one of the trees that fell over and tore all the lines down in this wind storm."  

"Mine's not an easy fix because the transformer took out part of the back fence, so it's on the ground," she said.   

 The New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization is warning people not to approach downed wires on roads or use generators indoors. 

On Monday, four members of a family suffered carbon monoxide poisoning because they were using a generator inside their home on Douglas Avenue in Fredericton.

They were treated and are recovering, but Robert Duguay, a spokesperson for EMO, said the situation could've been a lot worse.

"Our main concern from now on is the way people take action to protect themselves or their belongings, particularly when they use generators around their home," Duguay said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

"We want to make sure people are well aware of carbon monoxide poisoning risk and to make sure they use generators properly around their house." 

David McKinley, Fredericton's assistant deputy fire chief, said the four family members were taken to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital shortly after 8 a.m., after carbon monoxide levels in some parts of the house read 600 parts per million, which is considered to be high.

In January 2017, two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning after the ice storm that hit the Acadian Peninsula.

Duguay said generators should be kept far from the home and should never be used in a garage, near windows or any ventilation system.

The emergency organization is also reminding people without power to keep their fridge doors closed to help reduce food spoilage.

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