NEWS
07/11/2014 06:19 EDT | Updated 09/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Storm Arthur costs could exceed $12M, says NB Power

The cost of restoring power to New Brunswickers following post-tropical storm Arthur could exceed $12 million, says the head of NB Power.

More than 21,000 New Brunswickers woke up without any electricity again on Friday as the clean-up stretches into its sixth day.

​NB Power will tally the costs for the clean-up efforts once power is fully restored across the province, president and chief executive officer Gaëtan Thomas told CBC News.

"At the end of the day, I expect the numbers to be in the vicinity of the same or more from the December storm," he said.

The 12-day ice storm last December cost NB Power roughly $12 million, said Thomas.

"So we have more crews at this storm, we have two-and-a-half times the customers who were out," he said.

There were 21,291 customers without electricity at about 3 p.m. Friday, according to the NB Power website.

The area with the most customers without power remains Fredericton, where 13,115 customers are waiting for their electricity to be restored.

The bulk of the other outages are in Woodstock, with 3,319 customers affected, St. Stephen, with 2,870 customers, and Rothesay, with 1,083.

The enormity of the damage left by the storm, including winds that were as high as 100 km/h in Fredericton, has forced NB Power to again revise the estimated time that power will be restored for many areas.

On Thursday, NB Power pushed the restoration date for the return of electrical service into next week for many residents.

Thomas said the majority of the residents who will be without power until Tuesday will be seasonal homeowners or "one-offs."

He said there are other homeowners, who need to have an electrician visit their home before NB Power can reconnect them.

"When we talk about subdivisions like this one [in Fredericton on Pembroke Crescent], we are going to go systematically, one by one and we are going to blitz them and we are going to cut what is in the way and restore the power and we have to do it very safely," he said.

NB Power has more than 310 crews working in the province now.

Thomas rejected criticism that Nova Scotia was better prepared for the storm and booked pole-setting contractors before NB Power.

"We had more damage in New Brunswick, we had 140,000 customers and right now we have restored about 110,000 so I think our performance has been very, very good," he said.

The utility told customers Friday it takes a minimum of six hours to put a new pole in place to replace a damaged one.

"In Fredericton alone, we have to repair nearly 200 poles," stated NB Power in a tweet.

The utility also countered rumours that it has run out of poles through a tweet.

"There is no shortage of poles or equipment. We source our poles through Marwood in Fredericton and they have plenty of supplies for us."

"Our crews have moved on the priorities and the pole-setting is now a priority," Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Fredericton's Grant-Harvey Centre and Willie O’Ree Place will remain open throughout the weekend for citizens to shower, charge their electronic devices and get water.

More than 6,000 people have been through the centres between Saturday and Thursday night, city officials said.

About 27,000 litres of water has been used since Monday, they said.

Shaved ice is also now available at Grant-Harvey Centre, compliments of Cook Aquaculture. Residents should bring their own containers.

Fredericton's Emergency Operations Centre will also remain active throughout the weekend, said director Wayne Tallon.

In addition, firefighters will continue to conduct property checks on large multi-unit residential buildings and gathering places, such as churches, without power, said Tallon.

"These inspections will help ensure the safety of the occupants," he said.

Residents are also urged to check on their neighbours.

Special bins have also been set up across the region for residents to dispose of food that spoiled during the power outages. The bins will be emptied daily to avoid odour and attracting animals.

The food waste disposal sites include:​

- Pennfield Lions Club, 358 Route 175, Pennfield.

- Lawrence Station Fire Hall, 120 Dixon Rd., Lawrence Station.

- Oak Bay Community Hall, 609 Route 170, Oak Bay.

- Upper Kingsclear Fire Hall – 22 Mazerolle Settlement Rd. Mazerolle Settlement.

- Keswick Valley Fire Hall – 32A Route 617, Burtts Corner.

- Keswick Ridge Fire Hall – 171 Route 616, Keswick Ridge.

- Nashwaak Valley Fire Hall – 20 Durham Bridge Rd., Durham Bridge.

- Hoyt Fire Hall – 6101 Route 101, Hoyt.

- Dumfries Fire Hall – 7222 Route 102, Dumfries.

- Sun’s Convenience, 2315 Route 101, Beaver Dam.

More bins will be added if necessary.

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