A vicious storm that ripped through central Saskatchewan late Monday
night could leave Prince Albert residents without power for up to 48
Rotating service could return within 24 hours.
SaskPower CEO Robert Watson told a teleconference on Tuesday afternoon
that the "unprecedented" storm left a massive trail of destruction.
"I can't think in the history of Saskatchewan, all the way from one
side of the province to the other and father north," he said. "It's
just the extent of the damage also that is quite dramatic."
Two lines were damaged near North Battleford and 10 kilometres of
lines were toppled near Meadow Lake. The latter is already back in
service, with North Battleford expected to be back on line around
midnight on Tuesday.
Mike Marsh, SaskPower's vice president of transmission and
distribution, said the destruction is also severe near Prince Albert.
"We've got one transmission line with four towers down and two that
are damaged. These are preliminary reports," Marsh said. "We're
working to have power restored in the next 48 hours with possibility
of some rotating outages to get some power into the P.A. area."
SaskPower has mobilized its staff and reached out to contractors and
out-of-province workers to deal with the situation. But having the
people ready is only part of the battle.
The terrain they are dealing with and the shape it's in are making a
hard job even tougher.
"Conditions are wet and muddy and in some cases there is very
treacherous terrain as well," Marsh said, adding that crews and
materials are being moved into the affected areas.
In Prince Albert, schools were closed and the St. Mary graduation was postponed.
Most businesses were closed, with those selling things like gas and
generators doing very well. But with no power, cash was king as debit
and credit cards didn't work.
The city asked residents to conserve water and be careful with
flushing and washing to avoid sewer backup.
Elective surgeries were cancelled at Victoria Hospital, but backup
generators ensured the facility remained functional.
Police reported that a roof collapsed on an apartment building and
there was a huge increase in false alarms from home security systems.
Meanwhile, John Paul Cragg, Environment Canada's severe weather
specialist for Saskatchewan, said the storm was a bad one -- with
winds in excess of 90 km/h -- but not out of line with what the
"Saskatchewan gets 85 severe weather events on average each year and
12 tornadoes each year on average, so these types of events are pretty