Some Quebecers will likely wait weeks before severely damaged power lines are fixed

After this weekend's fierce storm, some Quebecers are being told to hunker down and get ready to live on generators, or without power, for several weeks.

In the town of Ste-Adele in the Laurentians, for example, the seriousness of the damage is easy to see.

"We had hurricane winds come through this area," said Darryl Craig, one resident showing the destruction near his home, with several trees knocked down.

"It uprooted some trees and basically our power lines are all down," he said. "You can see the wire and everything."

The mangled wires supply electricity to his entire block, and it could be weeks before it's all repaired.

"Apparently Hydro now is prioritizing all the roads in the front of the houses, and we're going to be another 10 to 14 days without power, or [before] someone coming to get the lines fixed and the trees cut down," he said.

He's using a generator, like most of his neighbours. But now gas is getting hard to find locally.

"We came yesterday morning so I [could] have two tanks of gas, but when we came yesterday in the evening there was no more gas," one local reported.

People weren't prepared for an emergency on this scale, most agree.

And for some, it's even worse -- for example, having four trees collapse not onto your power lines but onto your house, which is the situation facing Michel Tetrault, also of Ste-Adele.

"It came like a white cloud," he recalled. He could see "nothing for about 30 seconds."

Then he tried to open his door I tried to open the door," discovered immediately that was a bad idea, "and after... 30 seconds everything was down," he said.

The repairs to his home will cost about $100,000, he says.

Hydro-Quebec crews are working overtime across the Laurentians and Lanaudiere, the two hardest-hit regions in the province.

But the utility company says that while many of the repairs can be done quickly, some simply can't.

In Blainville, 80 per cent of outages can be fixed within a day, says Hydro-Quebec spokesperson Caroline Des Rosiers.

The rest will have to wait, she said. As of Monday afternoon, there were 1,400 separate outages responsible for the nearly 200,000 people who were then without power (as of Monday evening, the number had sunk below 175,000).

What is working well is neighbourly support, said Bob Luck, as people help each other clean up.

"That's what we appreciate," he said. 


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