07/12/2014 06:54 EDT | Updated 09/11/2014 05:59 EDT

NB Power misses 90% restoration goal one week after Arthur

NB Power has missed its goal of having 90 per cent of customers who lost their power during post-tropical storm Arthur last weekend back online.

As of Saturday, at about 6:30 a.m., nearly 16,000 homes and businesses were still without power. By 10 a.m., the number stood at almost 15,000.

At the peak of the outages from Arthur, 140,000 customers were affected.

On Thursday, NB Power had said it hoped to have power restored to 90 per cent of those customers  — or 126,000 — by Friday night, which would have dropped the number of outages to 14,000.

But 14,762 customers are still waiting for the return of electrical service, one week after Arthur's high winds and heavy rain uprooted trees and toppled power lines across the province.

Fredericton remains the hardest hit, with 9,867 customers offline, according to NB Power's website.

The bulk of the other outages are inSt. Stephen, with 1,907, Woodstock, with 1,891, and Rothesay, with 930.

Outages also continue in Bathurst, Miramichi, Sussex and Tracadie.

Only estimates

NB Power officials have stressed that targeted restoration times are only estimates and can be affected by a variety of factors.

One of the challenges faced in recent days, for example, was that storm-weakened trees continued to fall on lines and infrastructure, causing thousands more to lose power.

But the utility provides conservative estimates to help people to make plans in the interim, officials have said.

NB Power spokesperson Bob Scott says crews continue to work around the clock to meet the restoration targets. 

"We are looking to achieve 99 per cent by Tuesday, looking to achieve 95 per cent by tomorrow evening," he told CBC News.

The final one per cent — mostly seasonal properties and those with structural damages or significant damage to utility infrastructure — will take longer, officials have said.

"People have to understand that we're working very hard," said Scott. "Now into the tougher ones, where the trees have come down on the lines, the lines are tangled in the trees, it takes more time to get at them," he said.

"But we've got the crews working today, tomorrow, and they'll be working until the very last customer is hooked up."

More than 300 crews are working to restore power as soon as possible, including foresters from the private sector.

Scott says its important for anyone tracking the outages to keep in mind that sometimes power has to be shut off in some areas to facilitate getting it back on for others.

He says if it appears outages are creeping up again, it's only temporary.

"Restoration work is being done with a strategic, priority-based approach," the Department of Public Safety said in a statement on Friday.

"The priorities are health and safety, telecommunications, securing food, fuel and cash distribution, and getting industry back to work."