© Geraldine Brophy
Generator's were used to power the timing hut at the Ye Olde Christmas races Sunday during rotating power outage at Blow Me Down Trails.
MASSEY DRIVE — It was a day of visiting family for Denise Cooper and her husband Tony Melendy on Saturday.
However, it was not the typical gathering for the couple from Massey Drive.
They needed to warm up, get something to eat, and have a hot cup of coffee, after they had spent hours in their home without power. They said their house went black around 9 a.m. and with the exception of a brief period when it restored, was gone until early evening.
With electric heat as their only source of power, it was outside winter wear inside their home throughout the day.
“We have had our heat down conserving the energy, so our house was cold as it was,” Cooper said. “We had our sweaters on anyway. Then, as it got colder and colder, we put our winter snowpants and shoes on. It got so cold, we had to leave the house.”
Eventually they decided, it was time to head to nearby Corner Brook to visit family who had power.
If the power loss continued, they had decided they would head to their cabin and warm by the woodstove throughout the night.
Their biggest concern was water freezing thus causing pipes to break and possible damage to their home. They left the water running slowly to avoid that.
Sunday, they were thankful there were no significant problems, and they could laugh about the situation the day after.
“We are just so grateful for the linesmen and crews who are working outside on this,” Cooper said.
It was a similar situation for many Massey Drive residents, said Mayor Gord Davis.
While rotating power outages have impacted nearly all customers of Newfoundland Power over the past number of days, residents of the town forged through an extended black out Saturday.
The mayor said the town did not experience any major problems. He did say it was an issue for the town’s pumps, but they have a back-up generator. Davis said he personally has two generators he avails of in such emergencies and that people should be similarly prepared for these times.
“People have stoves and propane furnaces, and everything,” Davis said. “Everybody in Newfoundland should make sure they have a back-up source these days, because you just never know.”
Second trip to the grid
The outage in Massey Drive resulted from the transformer fire at the Summerside terminal that knocked out power to more than 190,000 of the 257,000 customers. There was a second trip to the grid Saturday afternoon. That evening, still 140,000 customers were without power. That was down to 25,000 Sunday morning, according to a Newfoundland Power spokesperson, but increased to about 35,000 in the afternoon. It was expected to increase again during the heavier load on the system into the Sunday evening.
Massey Drive was not the only western Newfoundland community impacted. There were about 10,000 customers on the west coast impacted, according to Newfoundland Power. Power was restored to those customers gradually, with the exception customers in the Link Pond subdivision of Massey Drive and the Sunnyslope subdivision of Corner Brook. Additional problems caused significantly longer outages in those areas.
The Western Royals cancelled their Saturday night senior hockey game in Deer Lake against the Gander Flyers. That west coast community was also without power for an extended period of time Saturday. The town set up a warming centre at Elwood Regional High School to help its residents. It closed after power was restored Saturday evening. The two teams did play Sunday at the Hodder Memorial Stadium.
The rotating power outages are expected to continue at least through today, according ot Newfoundland Power. Whether more generation is reached, the amount of energy that is conserved by customers, and the weather conditions are factors in the re-evaluation of whether the outages will continue.
Meanwhile, schools — K-12 and post-secondary — throughout Newfoundland are closed until Wednesday to help keep the consumption of power down over the next couple of days.