Thirty customers were still without power for a third day, Tuesday in Cap-Santé, following a storm that has already entered the history of major weather phenomena that have affected Quebec.
If the majority of Capsantéens ran out of electricity like many other Quebecers on the stroke of 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, most found power in the evening on Sunday.
But the story is different for some residents of Vieux-Chemin, still without electricity 72 hours after Mother Nature’s milk rise. Despite the latter’s mood swings, the people we met kept their spirits up.
The breaking of a tree on Gilles Frenette’s property caused a chain reaction on the picturesque street.
Photo Martin Lavoie
The cause of the ongoing breakdown: On Gilles Frenette’s property on Vieux-Chemin in Cap-Santé, an 80-year-old maple tree broke. A Hydro-Quebec pole was attached to the tree. The two then fell on the pole across the street. On May 24 at noon two new poles had already been planted by the New Brunswick teams. Transformers were also on site. But the wires were still hanging down.
“It’s an 80-year-old maple to which a Hydro-Quebec pole was attached. When the tree broke, they fell on a pole on the other side of the street,” explained Mr. Frenette.
Tuesday noon wires were still hanging. New poles had been driven in and transformers lay on the ground waiting to be installed.
Help from New Brunswick
“I saw five teams go through. The first two said they did not have the necessary equipment, the third installed the poles and the fourth the transformers,” explained Luc Pellerin.
He also noticed that they were workers from New Brunswick, Énergie NB Power having indeed sent teams to Quebec in view of the magnitude of the challenge.
Some residents of this artery, that the Globe and Mail has already been described as one of the 10 most beautiful village streets in Canada, are powered by the poles of Route 138. Mr. Pelletier’s house is without electricity, but his garage is connected to the 138 circuit.
“I installed extension cords from the house to the garage for my fridge and freezer. And I can thus recharge my 13-year-old daughter’s phone, because otherwise, it’s death”, laughs the good living.
A colossus collapses
Not far away, the Francine Brousseau residence overlooks the cliff. At the height of the storm, its majestic oak tree broke and most of it fell down the cape, directly onto the CN rails. Fortunately, someone had the presence of mind to call 911.
According to his neighbor, Henri Rinfret, the tree was 250 years old. Installed on the side of the cliff, Mr. Rinfret had a front row seat to see the storm.
“I’ve never seen that. I saw the black clouds coming. And then the debris started banging against the windows. It lasted 30 minutes, but the strongest about five minutes”, he estimated.
He saved the contents of his fridge and freezer by regularly adding ice.
According to Hydro-Quebec, the service was to be restored around 10 p.m. Tuesday.
The grocer tastes it
Beyond the cut affecting the Vieux-Chemin, residents of Cap-Santé, Portneuf, Pont-Rouge and Saint-Basile were without electricity for one or two days.
Nearly twenty poles have been knocked down around the Leneuf de Saint-Basile substation, which converts and distributes electricity from high-voltage lines.
It was the commotion on Tuesday around 11 a.m. at the Tradition Market in Saint-Basile, which had been without electricity for 40 hours, to put frozen and refrigerated food back on the shelves.
“Sobeys sent us two refrigerated trailers. But we still lost meat because of the use-by date and frozen foods like seafood that thawed,” noted owner Luc Gauthier.
The latter did not make a drama out of it despite the losses and the long hours of work moving all the food to the trailers and bringing them back to the shelves.
To make matters worse, one of the four motors that had to refrigerate its shelves gave up the ghost before the magnitude of the task.
Mr. Gauthier was able to open in disaster for four hours Monday from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“Apart from one recalcitrant customer, people have been very understanding. I even had clients who offered to help us. It was very appreciated,” added the one who has to deal with the labor shortage.