The storm disrupted flights, buses and trains across Quebec
MONTREAL — The winter storm that hit Quebec on Friday afternoon has left hundreds of thousands of Quebecers without power, and many are struggling to get around due to transportation infrastructure disruptions.
At Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL), many trips were disrupted on Saturday, with around 90 delayed departures and arrivals and more than thirty canceled flights, according to the Aéroports de Montréal website.
In Quebec, Jean-Lesage Airport (YQB) indicated on its website that more than twenty departures and arrivals were delayed, and that twenty flights had simply been canceled.
On the road, uncertain conditions forced the cancellation of several coach routes, including intercity carrier Orléans Express. The company announced on its website that five trips between Montreal and Gatineau had been canceled on Saturday between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
VIA Rail Canada trains were also disrupted by weather conditions, and the railway company announced on its website that “significant delays” were to be expected in the Quebec – Windsor corridor. Twenty trains were also canceled on Saturday.
Due to a train derailment earlier today, VIA Rail said on its website that it is forced « to cancel all trains between Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto and Montreal for December 25. »
The Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) reported in a press release released Saturday afternoon that its facilities at the Matane-Baie-Comeau-Godbout crossing had been damaged by the storm.
The service to Godbout has therefore been suspended, and all scheduled crossings to or from the municipality will be redirected to Baie-Comeau.
The STQ will also have to test its equipment in Baie-Comeau to check the impacts of the storm, but the lack of electricity has delayed these checks.
In Matane, the company found no damage to infrastructure, but said navigation conditions remained “difficult”.
The Matane–Baie-Comeau–Godbout crossings scheduled for Monday, December 26 are maintained and the service resumes according to the posted schedule, the STQ said in the evening.
She assured that she will inform customers of any changes through her alert system.
During a press briefing in Montreal on Saturday morning, the president and CEO of Hydro-Québec, Sophie Brochu, indicated that 1,200 workers and contractors were on the ground to try to restore power to the affected regions.
« We’re like a game of snakes and ladders. As we connect customers who had lost the power supply, there are others who have breakdowns, ”she explained.
Ms. Brochu specified that between yesterday’s press briefing and today’s, 200,000 people had regained electricity, but 200,000 others had lost it elsewhere.
She called on the province to arm itself with « a lot of patience and resilience », adding that the company was doing everything in its power to work « as quickly as possible ».
Ms. Brochu will hold another press briefing on the situation on Sunday morning.
Executive Vice-President Éric Filion said the company aims to restore power as a priority for customers who failed before 4 p.m. Friday.
« We want to restore the majority of customers who have been down since the start of the event by Sunday evening, » he said at the conference.
Saturday afternoon, the Premier of Quebec, François Legault, underlined in a tweet the work of the Hydro-Quebec teams, who are doing “everything they can to reconnect the most homes, as quickly as possible”. He also praised the efforts of the Ministry of Public Security and invited Quebecers to check in on their loved ones who live alone.
“Be careful on the roads too, the conditions are not ideal. For those who wish to warm up, places are ready to receive you in several cities and municipalities”, could we read on his Twitter account.
Quebec City shaken
Sunday around 12:45 a.m., Hydro-Quebec reported 150,405 homes, businesses and other customers still without power. No region of Quebec was spared by these power outages.
The region hardest hit remained the Capitale-Nationale with 41,147 Hydro-Québec subscribers still without electricity.
The mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, drew up a preliminary assessment of the situation during a press briefing on Saturday noon, stressing that the City of Quebec had experienced a stormy day which would remain “in the archives”.
“It was the day when we received the most 911 calls, and the most 311 calls. We recorded winds of 120 km/h […]winds which are obviously destructive”, he listed.
According to the director of the Fire Protection Department, Christian Paradis, more than 1,100 calls were made to 311 during the day on Friday.
“In one day, we had the ratio of calls that we generally have in a month, he declared. […] The 911 service received three times as many calls: they had to deal with 3100 yesterday, contrary to an average of 1000”.
Quebec City also experienced the highest tides ever recorded, which also caused overflows on Dalhousie Street and in the Champlain district.
The number of power outages has reached 100,000 homes, which has plunged some residents into “great insecurity”, underlined Mr. Marchand. He added, however, that the crisis teams deployed on the ground had done “a colossal job” to serve the citizens.
Some community centers even remained open to accommodate families who did not have electricity, allowing them to stay warm.
“There is still a lot of work to be done to return to normalcy. […] The snow removal operation will continue much later than usual to allow people to celebrate tonight and receive their families,” added the mayor.
The other regions most affected are Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (23,062 customers), Côte-Nord (17,818 customers), Montérégie (10,194 customers) and the Laurentians (11,357 customers).
Added to this are Mauricie (12,486 customers) and Bas-Saint-Laurent (11,430 customers) where the storm raged during the night.
Routes 113 and 117 which connect Abitibi to Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean were reopened after being closed on Friday afternoon, but visibility remains reduced. The same is true for routes 175 and 169, in the Laurentides wildlife reserve, which are now passable.
Saturday evening, no update was available regarding the closure of Route 381, in the Laurentians, between Ferland-et-Boilleau and Saint-Urbain, which was scheduled for an indefinite period.
Transports Québec points out that users who travel between Québec and Saguenay by electric vehicle will not have access to charging stations for an indefinite period in the Laurentides wildlife reserve at l’Étape.
He recommends downloading the Québec 511 application to stay informed of current events on the road network.