The arduous task of restoring electrical service to customers in Southern Ontario was “virtually complete” by Dec. 30, the provincial government reported. More than 600,000 homes and businesses lost power following an ice storm on Dec. 21 and 22. By the morning of Dec. 30, the lights were back on at all but a few hundred sites.
About half the customers without power were served by Toronto Hydro. The city’s utility reported on Dec. 29 that 50,000 metres of electrical cable had been used in its restoration efforts. Crews from Toronto Hydro received support from Hydro Ottawa, EnWin, Enersource, Manitoba Hydro, Horizon Utilities, Sudbury Hydro, Brant County, Hydro One, Sault Ste. Marie PUC and City of Toronto forestry workers.
At a press conference on Dec. 30, Anthony Haines, CEO of Toronto Hydro, said an emotional thank you to crews who had worked around the clock, reported cbc.ca. “We were all tired, but we never stopped,” Haines said.
In Toronto, areas with overhead power lines were the hardest hit: Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. The utility prioritized restoration work by working on public safety calls first, then priority customers such as hospitals, city services and TTC.
“The damage caused by fallen trees and limbs continues to delay restoration efforts,” Toronto Hydro reported on Dec. 23, one day after the storm. “Crews are discovering multiple limbs on powerlines and in some cases, trees and ice are preventing crews from accessing roadways.”
The Dec. 23 update continued: “Toronto Hydro has restored some critical customers, including Toronto East General Hospital, Humber River Regional Hospital, Horgan water treatment plant, Richview pumping station, and Yorkdale subway station.”
Toronto Hydro’s twitter news feed provides further insight into the restoration process. Dec. 22 in the early hours of the morning: “More than 90 large scale outages across the city, in addition to single homes/businesses.” Dec. 22, 4:29 AM: “All available staff are mobilized.” Dec. 23: “We’ve been operating at our highest level of emergency since the storm hit & crews continue to work around the clock.” Dec. 24: “We’ve restored 70% of customers’ power since the height of #IceStorm2013.”
By Dec. 26, the utility reported it was working to restore feeders and transformers. Via twitter, Toronto Hydro reported on Dec. 27: “Crews are restoring feeders that serve streets (100-300 customers per feed). Prioritizing by which ones serve the most amount of customers.”
A few days later, Dec. 29, the City of Toronto stated: “There are currently 70 forestry crews and 17 staff in single vehicles triaging calls and working closely with Toronto Hydro. The forestry crews work to clear downed trees and fallen branches and facilitate access for hydro crews to work on power restoration. There are also 13 forestry crews from Ottawa and London that are assisting Toronto’s forestry staff with debris removal.”
Nine days after the ice storm of 2013, there was plenty of debris left on the ground, but business in the manufacturing hub of Southern Ontario is getting back to normal.