Nova Scotia Power says some customers in the province will be without power for multiple days.
Peter Gregg, the company’s president and CEO, said there have been wind speeds never before seen in the province.
Gregg made the comments Saturday afternoon at a briefing put on by Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office (EMO).
Around 380,000 customers are without power. Gregg said the company has restored power to around 60,000 customers.
Winds hammering restoration effort
However, he said wind speeds must be below 80 km/h for crews to restore electricity. Gregg said the wind speeds remain above warning levels in Eastern Shore, northeastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.
“Cape Breton is seeing extremely extensive damage,” Gregg said.
Christina Lamey, a spokesperson for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said hundreds of people have been displaced by the storm. She said winds remain around 80 km/h and urged people to stay home, unless they are not safe where they are staying.
“We don’t want people out driving,” she said.
At the briefing, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage read a statement from CBRM Mayor Amanda McDougall.
“Power outages are vast, cellphone service is now unreliable and travel around the region is hazardous,” said the statement.
“The downed lines, trees, flying debris and sheer people in need of support is the reason why we have declared a state of local emergency.”
The statement said CBRM hasn’t been able to activate as many comfort centers as it planned to because of damage to sites.
Power crews on way from Ontario, Maine
Gregg said the utility is bringing in crews from as far away as Maine and Ontario to assist with the restoration efforts.
He also said there are downed power lines and broken poles.
“You must assume those power lines are energized,” he said. “Do not go near them. Do not touch them.”
The storm made landfall shortly after 3 am Saturday and had the greatest impact in Cape Breton and eastern Nova Scotia with wind gusts ranging from 100 to 140 km/h have been reported, with coastal gusts up to 160 km/h.
Rainfall exceeded 100 millimeters in some locations. Nearly 150 millimeters fell in the Truro area.
“This is a storm that will certainly not be forgotten anytime soon,” Premier Tim Houston said at the briefing.
Houston said the province has requested disaster and military assistance from the federal government.