Heavy snow and high winds cause major problems on Manitoulin Isl.

Jeff Anning

The Recorder

MANITOULIN—It was a cold morning this past Saturday, and even colder for the 8,500 customers in the Manitoulin Island and Killarney areas who lost their power on Friday or during the night on Saturday. According to Hydro One, the power outage was either caused by high winds and heavy snowfall on Friday, or on Saturday as snow froze and caused trees to fall onto power lines. The fallen trees and wires wiped out a large part of the grid around the Island.

The hydro company has been working steadily since Saturday morning to try to repair all of the damaged lines and move some of the trees that fell. A Hydro One spokesperson said power returned Saturday at different times throughout Manitoulin with most customers getting power back between 7:30 – 10 pm, although some customers in Spring Bay and Meldrum Bay didn’t get their hydro back until Sunday evening, and some had to wait until Monday.

Hydro One was not the only group who had a busy weekend as the Manitoulin Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was also dealing with many calls. Constable Al Boyd said “we got a lot of alarm calls, because of the heavy snow a lot of motion alarms went off.”

Mr. Boyd said, “people were having a problem getting a hold of hydro people. The next step for them is to call 911 or the OPP, so our call centre was pretty busy.” He also said that many calls were to go check on older citizens because family members were worried about them during the outage.

A lot of the calls the OPP received occurred later in the day and Mr. Boyd explained, “within the first 12-15 hours people think it’s a big adventure and don’t really worry, but once you get to the 18 hour mark people start to get cold.”

Not everyone suffered from the power outage, as some businesses, such as Buoy’s Restaurant in Gore Bay, had a generator so they were able to stay open. Sue Garlock said that the day was “very busy, but lovely,” and that “a lot of people got caught without any food in their cupboards.”

Buoy’s was one of the only businesses open in Gore Bay on Saturday and although Ms. Garlock couldn’t provide an exact number of customers they had, she put it in perspective by explaining, “we made at least 70 pizzas, which is more than we made on New Year’s.”

Despite the cold weather outside and the large line that built up around Buoy’s, Ms. Garlock said that everyone was very patient and understanding and said that power outages seem to bring out the best in people. “I notice that whenever the power goes out people seem to work together.”

The heavy snow caused more trouble than just power outages as a few people had trees break and fall into their yard. Downed trees caused damage in some cases and in others blocked people in.

John Gridley of Gore Bay said, “I looked out and saw that a tree had fallen right across the sidewalk and I couldn’t get out.” When it came down to what caused it he said, “I guess all the weight of the snow, I never thought it, but it split right at the joint and brought the big tree down.”

Mr. Gridley said his problem was solved when his neighbour, Art Harper, came over with a chainsaw to clear him a path, showing again that despite having bad days people still come together to help each other out.

As of 5 pm Monday, all of the power to Manitoulin Island and Killarney has been restored and the power lines fixed. After all of this the Hydro One spokesperson said, “We know heavy winds and icy conditions affect our service and we’re always ready for it.”