Damage To Power Grid Worse Than 1998 Ice Storm Or 2018 Tornadoes

By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
It could be a few nights of candles and flashlights for some Ottawa residents who might not have their power back on for days. 

Hydro Ottawa says the storm we saw on Saturday was worse than the ice storm of 1998 and the multiple tornadoes we saw in 2018. While both weather events did cause extensive damage and days with no power, the extent of destruction wasn’t as wide. 

“As we continue to control lines our crews continue to find damage making it difficult to simply start to re-energize our lines,” Hydro Ottawa said in a letter sent to Mayor Jim Watson and members of council. “The wide-spread nature of this outage persists with no single fix.”

About 140,000 Hydro Ottawa customers are still without power this hour, but the lights are back on for about 4,000 residents, many of whom are in Barrhaven. City councillor Jan Harder said anyone who had power restored in Barrhaven today “won the lottery.”  

Additional hydro crews are being brought in to help fix the damage, coming from the Greater Toronto Area, Kingston, and as far as New Brunswick. 

As of Victoria Day morning, a little over 151,000 Hydro Ottawa customers are still without power, with 520 outages. Much of Half Moon Bay is still in the dark, along with a few areas along Strandherd and along Fallowfield. 

Many of the damaged and fallen poles on Greenbank have been fixed, but that road still remains closed from Fallowfield to HuntClub. Woodroffe also remains closed for that same stretch, with cleanup efforts still to happen. 

Hydro Ottawa says they prioritized a return to service in areas around hospitals, the airport, and any waste treatment centres. They say resorption is being managed from a “whole of the city perspective.” 

At the height of the storm about 180,000 Hydro Ottawa customers were without power, making up about half their customer base. With wind gusts reaching up to 120 kilometres an hour and torrential rain, the damage was unavoidable as it impacted both local and provincial electricity grids. 

Officials say it could take multiple days to see a full return to power.

With over 225 hydro poles ruined, a full restore of the grid will take days. Many hydro poles are down along various stretches of Merivale Road. (Charlie Senack Photo)