Gordon/Barrie Island resident without hydro for over three weeks

GORDON/BARRIE ISLAND—Some Islanders may feel discouraged with the hydro outages Manitoulin has experienced in the past little while. Take heart, it could be worse, because a Gordon/Barrie Island woman has had no hydro at her home for over three weeks.

“It all started on the Monday morning of the deer gun hunt season on the Island, November 18, when we had that big storm, and in the early morning it caused power outages across the Island and a lot of the province,” said Gloria Hall. The power went out at her residence at about 2 am when two hydro poles broke off in her yard.

“When I got up Monday morning one of the hydro poles was across my driveway with the live exposed wires laying in water and at the back of the house the hydro pole was down as well with the live wires exposed,” Ms. Hall told the Recorder. “Luckily there was no damage done as the poles hadn’t hit my house.”

Ms. Hall explained that on the Sunday night, November 17, she arrived at her house and had parked her vehicle as close to the front deck of the residence as she could. “When I pulled up to the deck, I waited in my car for some time to see if the rain would let up a bit before I went into the house. The hydro pole would have hit my car (the next morning) if I had parked where I usually do.”

“I didn’t want to move or disturb the downed lines,” she said, pointing out her phone line was down as well. “I tried to make a call through my cell phone, but there was not much service because the power was out.” With no way to contact anyone, she hitchhiked to work at the Manitoulin Lodge in Gore Bay. “Luckily, someone from Meldrum Bay picked me in their vehicle.”

When she got to work, Ms. Hall called Hydro One, “and the lines were very busy and I was put on hold for a very long time. I reported the downed lines, and they called me at between 2 to 3 pm at the Manitoulin Lodge and said a representative would be out to take a look at everything.” Later, she had gone back to her home to drop off some wood for her woodstove and noticed the power was still off and the hydro lines were still lying in the water. Although a hydro rep had been there, nothing had been done to fix the downed hydro lines.

She again contacted a representative at Hydro One. “I called Hydro One to see if this should be an emergency call with the lines still down, or what I needed to do and I asked three times, but got no real answers.”

Ms. Hall then went to stay at her parents’ house on the Island. “But that first night, especially, I was terrified someone would come out to my house (in Gordon/Barrie Island) and would check things out and maybe get hurt. The lines from the hydro poles were live. It was so dangerous.”

“When I had been at my house to check on things, I had to step over live wires which were in the water in the driveway,” said Ms. Hall. She explained on the morning of November 19, “after a long wait from a call I had made to Hydro, they told me the power had been turned off at my house. One of the biggest problems I’ve had in all of this is that I have been trying to get some straight answers and suggestions on what I should be doing, but had to go through so many road blocks.”

She said, “I know one gentleman in Spring Bay who had the same thing happen to him and he had to replace his hydro lines after a big storm and it cost him $10,000,” said Ms. Hall. “Hydro doesn’t tell you that.”

“I’ve been going to the house every day to put the fire on (the wood stove) so my water pipes don’t freeze and I have a generator on so that if it freezes it doesn’t thaw all the food I have in the freezers,” said Ms. Hall.

The hydro poles and lines were finally put up last week, although power had not yet been restored. “I’m hoping the new poles and lines pass the inspection (scheduled for Thursday of this week), because if they aren’t I have been told I won’t get my power restored until January 10, which is unacceptable,” stated Ms. Hall. The reason for this, she explained, is that Hydro One only has one inspector, from Sudbury, who comes to the Island and he is only in Gordon a couple of days each month.

“It has been a very interesting and stressful time—it’s been a horror story,” stated Ms. Hall. “I have no idea how much all of this will cost me. The main message I would like to give to everyone is that people should check the hydro poles on their property to see if there are any signs that the safety of the poles have been compromised in any way. “My hydro poles broke off at the ground during the storm,” she said, noting, “one of the sad parts of all of this is that you contact professionals with Hydro One with questions and they give you answers that are unclear, if they get back to you at all. You try to ask for clarification and some get very short with you.”

“I am so thankful to my friends and family, especially my parents, for their support and help through all of this,” added Ms. Hall.

Tom Sasvari