While last week’s storm left the majority of the Northern Peninsula relatively unscathed – shingle loss and power surges were the majority of the community reports – it was a different story for the St. Lunaire-Griquet area.
Late Monday evening a busted transformer knocked out the power, which wasn’t restored to full capacity until Thursday morning.
According to Marissa King, senior communications advisor for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, crews were ready to respond Monday night but because of the high winds and blowing snow it was unsafe to send crews out.
“Conditions were a little better Tuesday morning so our crews got out at first light,” King said. “They identified a problem with one of the power transformers near St. Lunaire-Griquet.”
King said a spare transformer was found in St. Anthony, and following testing it was shipped out to replace the broken one.
But that’s where things hit a snag.
When the transformer was going through its testing and hookup stages, King said, issues with a second transformer were identified.
As a result, another transformer had to be shipped in – this time from Bishop’s Falls.
In an effort to get a power supply flowing through the area again, King said Hydro starting rotating the available electricity in three-hour intervals on Wednesday afternoon.
By Thursday morning the power was back to full capacity.
How it went
A number of residents the Northern Pen spoke with were getting by without too many problems, stating generators and wood stoves were their saving grace.
However, it didn’t mean everybody was living cozy during the outage.
L’Anse-aux-Meadows resident Valance Hedderson was the first victim of the storm.
A half-hour before everything went dark, the wind tore the power line connecting to his house from a nearby pole.
“Hydro was down the next day to reattach the line but we were still without power because of other problems,” Hedderson said.
As a result, his waterline froze.
Hedderson gets his water from an individual well, 150 feet from his home.
“So I don’t know how far back that is frozen,” he said during the outage. “I got a hotline on the system, once I can get that going it might thaw out the line. I got a generator to operate the stove, it’s warming up the house so that might help thaw things out but we won’t know what’s gone until the power comes back.”
Hedderson said before the generator was brought into the picture, they would spend time at their daughter’s and fire up the woodstove in his shed for warmth.
“It’s too long to be without power,” he said. “We aren’t that young anymore and we’re sick on top of it. It’s a bad going on.”
St. Lunaire-Griquet Mayor Gerald Hillier said for the most part people got by without too much difficulty.
“A lot of people on the Northern Peninsula know what it’s like to ride out a storm,” Hillier said. “Most people have a generator or wood stove in their house to see them through it,” adding family support can also make it easier to weather the storm.
The biggest issue Hillier had was water freeze-ups.
The town has a pump house that carries water through the system. When the power goes out the water stops.
It has a reserve tank that can distribute water up to four hours, but once gone, Hillier said, that’s it.
After the power was restored and everything was checked out, Hillier feels the town got off extremely lucky.
“We were expecting our main line to freeze up and if that had happened we would have been without water for the rest of the winter, but when we checked it we had a few service lines froze up, which isn’t bad because we were expecting the worst,” he said.
Hillier said the ordeal was certainly an eye opener for the town when it comes to emergency situations.
As a result the town is seeking funding to have an emergency generator stationed at the pump house.
“We’ve been talking with the Department of Municipal Affairs and a letter has been sent requesting emergency funding,” Hillier said. “It’s going to cost around $65,000, which is not much to keep the water running in St. Lunaire-Griquet.”
Looking back in retrospect, Hillier said, he’s not pleased with how long the power was gone for.
He said Hydro stations in the area should be better stocked with back up supplies to service the area.
“That way any situation can be responded to in the most efficient time,” Hillier said. “If we didn’t have to wait for a transformer to come in from Bishop’s Falls, we could have had our power back a day earlier.”
But he refuses to knock the effort of the crews who worked on restoring the power.
“The men on site done their best. I’m not saying everything was done as fast as it should have been, but if they had to wait for a transformer to be shipped in there was nothing they can do about that,” he said.
After the power was returned to rotating status, Hillier said, the crews showed their willingness to see the electricity restored to full capacity, by staying on scene the entire night.
“They done what they could do and they tied the power back in as fast as they could.”