Lee knocked out power to more than 90K New Brunswickers, says N.B. Power

More than 90,000 N.B. Power customers lost power during post-tropical storm Lee, and about 90 per cent of them now have their power restored, said N.B. Power spokesperson Dominique Couture.

It’s been a busy 48 hours for power crews, Couture said on Monday morning.

Crews worked in tough conditions on Saturday, she said, adding “thankfully,” Sunday’s weather was much better.

Many crews relocated to the southwestern part of the province, which was hardest hit, said Couture.

They are hoping everyone will be back online today.

About 1,400 customers are currently still without power, mainly in Charlotte County.

Most of the outages were in the distribution system that delivers power to neighbourhoods, she said, so there were small pockets of households affected.

Kingsbrae Garden hit hard

The electricity situation in Saint Andrews is improving, said Mayor Brad Henderson. Just 50 or 60 homes were still affected this morning.

A great concern Sunday was Passamaquoddy Lodge nursing home, which had been on a generator for over 24 hours, said Henderson.

Thanks to a concentrated effort by restoration crews, the home was reconnected, he said.

Henderson didn’t have a complete count of downed trees Monday morning, but said the number is “definitely in the hundreds.”

There were at least 20 at Kingsbrae Garden, where he works as managing director. Kingsbrae includes 27 acres of themed gardens.

The cleanup of trees downed by post-tropical storm Lee over the weekend continues Monday and power crews continue to work to restore power to the final customers still offline. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

Two 150-year-old oak trees that are popular for weddings lost large branches in the storm, said Henderson, and a much-loved tree that was planted when the garden opened fell across the path by the windmill. However, a rare and endangered Wollemi pine made it through the storm safely.

Henderson said he’s confident the lost trees will be replanted and the garden will be looking pristine again in no time.

Meanwhile, he said, the garden’s trails are closed while safety checks are being done.

Chainsaws could be heard buzzing all over town Sunday, said Henderson.

As of Sunday evening, only one street still had a tree across it, he said.

It was “a blessing” that the wind died down before high tide Saturday afternoon, said Henderson. That meant there was no damaging storm surge.

Saint John fares better than expected

Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon said her city also fared better than expected in storm Lee.

Reardon said it was sad to see two big trees down in King Square. They were among almost 50 downed trees or big branches.

Most were cleaned up by Sunday, she said.

At least 17 people stayed in emergency shelters during the storm, which was well below capacity, said the mayor.

A large downed tree blocks the pathway leading to the bandstand.
King’s Square, in uptown Saint John, which lost several trees during post-tropical Dorian in 2019, had at least two large trees uprooted by Lee over the weekend. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

Some flooding happened, in expected areas, and some vehicles were abandoned in the Hay Market Square area, she said.

There were a few downed wires and 900 homes in the city were briefly without power Saturday before Saint John Energy had it restored, she said.

Lessons learned during Arthur helped Fredericton

Many of the calls for service received during storm Lee in Fredericton were for downed lines, said Fredericton Fire Chief and EMO co-ordinator Dwayne Killingbeck.

Fifty calls for service were received from 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday, he said.

By comparison, 295 calls for service were received in 24 hours during the last big storm like this to hit the city, which was Arthur.

Peak wind during Lee was 74 km/h, he noted. That was lower than during Arthur, when peak wind was 106 km/h, he said.

Lots of lessons were learned from Arthur, said Killingbeck. For one thing, extra staff were working and on call. They were all put to work, but were better able to keep up, he said, so it was less hectic.

Lee resulted in significant rainfall in Fredericton — 85 to 120 mm according to CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin.

The storm water system is able to take over 100 mms in 24 hours, said Killingbeck, but some downpours were obviously faster than that rate and some drains were clogged with leaves.

There was some localized flooding. One road closure was necessary, on Waggoners Lane between Rookwood Avenue and Hanwell Road, which is just below Odell Park.

The closure lasted a few hours, he said.

Many Frederictonians had water on their property, said Killingbeck. One family was displaced and the Canadian Red Cross is helping them, he said.

He had this tip for people whose power is still out: check your appliances to make sure they’re in the off position. That’s a good safety precaution to avoid surge damage when power is restored, he said.

A debris pickup is being organized for homeowners. Killingbeck said details will be announced in the coming days.

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