Storm damage ‘simply beyond comprehension,’ says Hydro Ottawa | CBC News

Hydro Ottawa says damage from Saturday’s storm is “simply beyond comprehension” as it brings in reinforcements to help with repairs. 

More than 200,000 people in the region are still without power and Hydro Ottawa says no area of the city was unaffected.

“This event is significantly worse than both the ice storm of 1998 and the tornadoes of 2018. This level of damage to our distribution system is simply beyond comprehension,” said Hydro Ottawa in a letter sent to the mayor on Sunday.

Hydro Ottawa map of outages

Joseph Muglia, the director of system operations and grid automation for Hydro Ottawa, told CBC’s Ottawa Morning new contractors are being onboarded Tuesday, and crews from the GTA, Kingston and New Brunswick are coming to help. 

“The outages that we’re seeing now are Hydro Ottawa outages,” he said, noting a little more than 200 power poles are down around the city. “My estimation would be into sort of later this week by the time some of those areas are back.”

Prioritizing restoring power to vulnerable residents

Muglia said Hydro Ottawa has made “massive strides” and restored power to about 70,000 people so far. 

“Although the customer count is high, it’s come significantly from where it was,” he said, adding between Monday and Tuesday it is expecting to make “significant strides.”

A utility worker documents the damage along Merivale Road in Ottawa after a major storm took down poles and power lines in the area May 21, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Mayor Jim Watson said the city is trying to prioritize restoring power to vulnerable residents.

“Those people who are economically challenged, live in affordable housing, who don’t have the luxury of going out and getting all new groceries, because obviously their groceries have gone to waste because of the lack of power,” he said. 

He said while the 2018 tornado that struck Ottawa was confined to a specific area, the storm system on Saturday “went basically all across the city, in rural Ottawa, suburban Ottawa, downtown Ottawa.”

As many traffic lights remain out, he cautioned drivers to remain safe. 

“There were a lot of yahoos that were out there going through the traffic lights, not caring about the others and not doing it in a courteous way,” he said. “We don’t want another accident to occur because of someone being an idiot or foolish and stretch our emergency resources even thinner.”

Saturday storm ‘very devastating,’ Ottawa mayor says

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the damage caused by a powerful storm Saturday may be worse than the tornado in 2018 and the ice storm of 1998.

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