A car is shown covered with broken branches on a street in Montreal, Friday, November 1, 2019, as high winds batter the province leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

1 dead, almost a million customers without power following wind storm in Quebec

MONTREAL — One man was killed and almost a million homes and businesses were without power across Quebec following a wind storm Friday, as the province’s hydro utility warned it could take several days to fully restore the grid.

The hardest-hit areas of the province were in southern Quebec, where winds topped 100 kilometres per hour. As of Friday evening, there were roughly 360,000 customers without power around the Montreal area, down to the U.S. border.

Other major outages were reported in the Laurentians, where more than 125,000 customers were without power; the Quebec City area, with 100,000 outage; and the Lanaudiere region, with another 100,000.

Authorities confirmed a 63-year-old man died Friday morning in Bromont, about 85 kilometres east of Montreal, after a tree fell on him.

Eric Fillion, president of Hydro-Quebec’s electricity distribution department, said roughly 1,000 workers had been dispatched across Quebec to restore power. But he warned some homes in areas that suffered the most damage will likely have to wait until early next week to regain electricity.

“This is really an exceptional situation,” Fillion told a news conference. “We have to be realistic. We have a lot of work to do and we’ll have a lot to do over the weekend.”

The number of customers without power was the highest number since the 1998 ice storm, when 1.4 million homes and business were left in the dark. But unlike in 1998, when the power transmission lines collapsed, Fillion said the main distribution network this time was not affected.

The weather system also brought with it heavy rain, which caused water levels in rivers to rise and some homes to flood. Sherbrooke, Que., received more than 100 millimetres of rain and authorities there evacuated 250 buildings threatened by the rising water of the St. Francois River downtown.

Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said the storm forced road closures, mudslides, and floods across the province.

“But the intensity of the winds should reduce tonight … and everything should be stable tomorrow,” she said Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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