Quebec Storm: Half a million Quebecers remain without power after wind storm

A large branch is shown strewn across a footpath on a street in Montreal, Friday, November 1, 2019, as high winds batter the province leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL -- The situation is gradually returning to normal in Quebec, after the passing of an autumn storm which caused severe damage across the province Friday.

"The worst is behind us almost everywhere," said Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault in a press briefing on Saturday.

Various regions of Quebec have been affected by floods.

"In Estrie, the situation has been a little tougher," acknowledged Guilbault, who reported 250 preventative evacuations in Sherbrooke. Thirty roads were flooded due to heavy rainfall - 100 mm of rain fell in the region, said the minister.

Guilbault also said 60 homes flooded in Cowansville, Montérégie. Beauce has also been affected by the floods. Streets have been closed to traffic, including Sainte-Marie.

She could not give precise figures on the number of floods or people affected in Quebec.

"It is difficult to have precise numbers on the number of floods and evacuations because we rely on data transferred by municipalities," she said. "Not all municipalities give us the information because some of them take charge of the situation themselves without necessarily needing the support of the (provincial) government."

Regional government coordination centres are active for the regions of Estrie, Montérégie, Mauricie, Quebec City, Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches.

"We are in recovery mode almost everywhere. We continue to monitor the situation. We are providing support to affected municipalities," said the minister.

Power outages

A large number of homes in Quebec remained without electricity on Saturday morning. At 10 a.m., Hydro-Québec reported 3,856 outages affecting just under half a million customers.

The company indicated that 478,482 subscribers were still without power. The regions of Montérégie (86,023 clients), Chaudière-Appalaches (67,391 clients), Capitale-Nationale (50,983 clients), Mauricie (57,190 clients) and Laurentides (68,609 clients) were hardest hit.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien said there were more than 500 teams with 1,100 field workers trying to fix the blackouts.

Hydro-Québec has also received reinforcements since nine teams from New Brunswick are already active to help their Quebec colleagues. Teams from Michigan are also due in the evening, the minister said.

"We have a very very important strike force. We see it in the corrections of the last 12 hours. We saw a very significant reduction," said the minister.

Nous l'avons fait. Des équipes arriveront de Detroit aujourd'hui pour nous prêter main-forte. ��

— Hydro-Québec (@hydroquebec) November 2, 2019

The minister has been moderately optimistic about getting back to normal.

"We hope that by the end of the weekend the almost complete recovery of the clientele," said Julien.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2019.