The number of Maritime Electric customers on Prince Edward Island appears to have taken a step backward Monday afternoon. The utility was reporting 17,940 customers without power as of 1:30 p.m., but that number had risen to 22,949 by 3:15 p.m.
The utility’s spokesman, Kim Griffin, insists progress is being made on restoring power lost when the remnants of hurricane Dorian blew through the Maritimes on the weekend.
Griffin said the utility’s infrastructure survived the storm quite well, with trees on the lines causing the bulk of the current problems. Of the utility’s 130,000 poles, Griffin said 50 were taken down by the storm.
She could not provide target numbers on what the number of customers without power would be down to by the end of the day, but she noted, “We were able to get 20,000 customers back on (Sunday).” There were over 56,000 customers without power at one point Sunday.
“We have a pretty solid plan that our crews are working on,” Griffin said. “We are taking it day-by-day but, certainly, we have the largest complement of crews that we’ve ever had. They are very focused on getting power restored.”
Griffin said Maritime Electric has 30 of its own crews deployed across P.E.I. and has another 25 crews helping them out, including ones that have arrived from Fortis Newfoundland and Fortis Ontario. Private tree contractors are also helping with the cleanup, she said.
In Summerside, Gordon MacFarlane said the city’s crews had less than 500 customers without power by Monday morning and the number was expected to decline throughout the day.
“All of our main lines have been energized. We’re dealing with areas where there are trees down on lines,” he said.
He did caution that it could be a matter of days before the last of the city utility’s customers get their power restored.
MacFarlane said the infrastructure at the city-owned power utility, overall, survived the storm well.
“Water and sewer, we don’t have any issues. The water table is fine.”
He said the roads have also held up quite well.
“We’re working to get things back to normal.”
Griffin said power restoration is taking longer than normal because of the sheer volume of trees that went down.
“At this point, we are telling our customers we could be into small and individual outages until the end of the week,” she stated. “It’s literally hundreds and hundreds of trees."
A helicopter was scanning lines in the Charlottetown and eastern part of the province on Sunday, and it was sent to western P.E.I. on Monday, and Griffin said it appears there are more trees down in western P.E.I. than in any other part of the province.
Along with power outages, there are residents across P.E.I. experiencing issues with cell phone, landline telephone, and internet services.
Griffin said Maritime Electric ran into challenges on Sunday communicating its restoration efforts to its customers because it lost service to both its main service provider and back-up provider.
She acknowledged that the communications providers are experiencing similar issues with trees as Maritime Electric is. Many of the providers share space on Maritime Electric poles.
More Dorian coverage:
- Prince County farmers thankful Dorian didn’t hit P.E.I. harder
- Dorian causes millions of dollars in damage to P.E.I. homes
- Dorian vs. Juan: A smaller punch but much more widespread
- Cleanup continues after powerful hurricane Dorian rips through Maritimes
- Better or worse, rain or shine: Dorian didn't stop P.E.I. newlyweds from getting hitched during storm