UPDATED: Arthur delivers big blow

Brett Poirier newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on July 5, 2014
A home on Eustane street lost an old tree during the storm on Saturday.
Brett Poirier photo

SUMMERSIDE — Arthur may not have been a hurricane or even a tropical storm by the time it hit P.E.I., but if that means Saturday’s weather was just a windy day, Islanders weren’t buying it.

With gusts of more than 100-kilometre per hour in Prince County, most locals used the opportunity to stay indoors. But desperately wanting outside were 30,000 country music fans.

The Cavendish Beach Music Festival was forced to close its gates on Saturday after high winds made the concert venue too dangerous.

Headliners for the show were unable to land on P.E.I. due to poor weather, which caused a number of cancellations at the Charlottetown Airport.

RCMP had the though task of keeping the peace with thousands of disappointed and even angry country music fans. Police working the concert switched their attention to patrolling local campgrounds and monitoring the roadways. They reported laying four impaired driving charges during the storm.

Prince District RCMP responded to about a dozen calls regarding weather-related emergencies.

In Summerside around 6 p.m. on Saturday, the city went dark. Power was lost for about 30 minutes, forcing motorists to be extra careful with streetlights off.

Along with the city outage, some 10,000 Maritime Electric customers on the Island were without power Saturday evening and into the night, a number that seemed small when comparing the 250,000 left in the dark in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Arthur was still creating havoc on Sunday, causing the P.E.I. 2014 Celebration Zone to close for the day in Charlottetown.

By 4 p.m. Sunday at least 1,400 Islanders were still without power. Maritime Electric has responded to calls Island-wide since the power outages early Saturday.

“It’s been a hectic few days,” said Kristopher Jackson, a spokesperson for the company said Sunday. “We don’t know if we’ll be able to get power restored today [Sunday] to all of our customers.”

Sunday afternoon the company restored power to more than 3,000 residents in Kings County who had been in the dark since Saturday.

“We’ve done over 200 separate jobs,” added Jackson. “It’s challenging to get all the power restored because there’s so much widespread damage.”

The Red Cross said they had a surprisingly quiet storm day on P.E.I.

“The Island didn’t call us for assistance,” said Dan Bedell, communications director for the Atlantic division of the Red Cross. “Other parts of the region needed aid but P.E.I. was under control.”

Bedell said Red Cross was used in southern parts of New Brunswick and costal areas of Nova Scotia with mobile charge centers to provide people without power some electricity for mobile devices.

Arthur also caused Northumberland Ferries in Wood Islands to shut down, and the Confederation Bridge had restrictions throughout much of the day until being re-opened around 10:30 p.m.

Members of the Summerside police and fire departments were also busy due to the storm.

Units across the city spent the majority of the day Saturday responding to calls of trees on power poles, electrical fires, and damaged property.

Around noon on Saturday, during the height of the storm, police were called to the intersection of Granville and Ryan streets when a traffic light came crashing into the traffic, taken down by the wind.

“A car was driving under the pole when it came down,” said Josh Gallant, who was eating across the street at A&W. “The guy sitting next to me had the best view, he told me the car had to swerve at the last second to avoid being hit.”

There were no injuries reported.

Across town, the fire department was on scene of a small fire near the Mulberry Motel around 11:45 a.m. Saturday.

A tree broke off and fell onto a power line causing a power outage.

“We had 85 people who went without power all day,” said owner Don Reid. “They understand the circumstances and made the best of it.” Power was restored at the guests around 8 p.m. the same night.

While working at the motel fire, crews rushed off after receiving another call, this time at a residence on Lily Crescent. The wind had knocked a tree branch onto power lines, once again causing a small fire.

Both the motel fire and residence fire were under control when units arrived.

It seemed by 3 p.m. Saturday that the wind had started to die down, but that wasn’t the case. Officials were called to a house on Jason Drive where another report of a fallen branch had sparked a small fire.

Crews were quick on scene and allowed the fire to burn itself out before letting electrical crews repair the damage.

One of Summerside’s most popular tourist destinations was nearly abandoned during Arthur’s wrath. A cold wind coming off the water gave Spinnaker's Landing a late-October feel.

Gabriel Salvia has owned a shop at Spinnaker's for more than a year and has never seen it so quiet.

“Nobody is around. No one,” said Salvia. “I’ve seen quiet days before but nothing like this.”

Salvia owns Beach Memories, a small shop dedicated to swimwear.

“This isn’t the best weather for my business,” he laughed. “No one wants to buy a bikini in a hurricane.”

Islanders will have good cleanup weather on Monday, with sunshine and a high of 27 degrees Celsius. But the wind isn’t going away just yet. Gusts are forecasted to reach 50-kilometres per hour early in the week. 

For storm photos, visit www.journalpioneer.com.