Some Upper Lake Melville residents have been out of power for more than 24 hours while Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro are working to identify and correct the cause of a major power outage.
The stop began Thursday at 3:13 am and affected people in Valley-Goose Bay, Sheshatshiu, Northwest River, and Mud Lake.
All schools on Lake Melville, including the Sheshatshiu Innu School, are closed due to a morning power outage.
Scott Crosbie, N.L. Hydro’s vice president of operations said Friday morning that the crew was looking for a Churchill Falls transmission line failure. He attributed this failure to the storm that moved across the southwest coast of Newfoundland to Labrador, causing snow, glaze and rain.
“At 4 o’clock in the morning, there was a crew member on the freeway. They encountered heavy ice and freezing rain on the trees in the area, and visibility was terrible,” Crosbie told CBC Radio on Friday.
“As you can imagine, the highlands of the rugged terrain are a mixture of snow and rain, which makes it very difficult to clear the lines and you can’t fly a helicopter to quickly find obstacles.” Crosbie said.
According to the crew, the crew continued to work on foot for the time being, and on Friday morning work began connecting the Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Upper Lake Melville areas to new power lines.
Thursday morning, Crosbie said about 5,000 customers had a power outage, about 60% of of them have had it restored thanks to backup generators.
“We expect all customers on the new line to be back on by tonight,” he said.
“Our work estimate says it will take 12 hours, but weather conditions are part of it, so we could go a little in either direction.”
“Our estimations for the job are that it will take 12 hours, but it might go either way somewhat because weather conditions are a factor.”
Mayor George Andrews of Happy Valley-Goose Bay said the municipality created warming centers Thursday as a precaution at the Labrador Friendship Centre, Masonic Lodge, and a United church, knowing the outage would take hours to repair.
Council will continue to monitor community needs, he added and anticipates electricity to be restored approximately 5 p.m.
“It’s been a hard day,” he said on CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning on Friday, adding that the town had three fire calls overnight. “I haven’t slept, and I’m sure a lot of other people haven’t either.”
“I’m simply urging the general people. to use candles with extreme caution.”
Andrews also warned homeowners not to store generators in garages in order to avert fires.