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Thousands without power as ice storm rips through Dufferin County

January 16, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Much of Dufferin County found itself under a thick sheet of ice over the weekend after the community was hit by a vicious storm that wreaked havoc across region. 

Hitting late on Saturday (Jan. 11) and continuing into Sunday (Jan. 12), the storm served as the catalyst for substantial flooding in Orangeville, with portions of road along Townline and First Street completely submerged in water for long periods on Sunday. The floodwaters impacted Orangeville’s sewage treatment plant, located on Townline, with the municipality forced to bypass some of its sewage – all of it excess rain water from storm drains. 

While road conditions were treacherous, the biggest impact felt across the region was the loss of power some 16,000 residents experienced in the aftermath of the storm. Freezing rain coated trees and power lines with ice, with the added weight causing some trees to collapse completely, and power lines to buckle under the added pressure. Fortunately, here in Orangeville, the effects were minimal according to Rob Koekkoek, President of Orangeville Hydro.

“The longest duration outage for a group of 16 customers was 5 and a half hours. All other outages were either a shorter duration, or affected a single customer with damaged customer-owned equipment,” Mr. Koekkoek stated. 

Orangeville Hydro services all of Orangeville, as well as the urban area of Grand Valley. Mr. Koekkoek noted all staff within the organization’s hydro lines department were involved in the immediate response to the storm, responding to calls as early as 1 a.m. on Sunday (Jan. 12). He stated technicians were still receiving calls from local residents concerned about trees covered in ice leaning on hydro lines in the community.

While there has been some substantial damage in some areas, Mr. Koekkoek indicated it may be some time until Orangeville Hydro is able to determine the exact costs associated with repairs.

“Considering there is still a significant amount of ice accumulation still on the trees in our service area, we are unable to provide a cost estimate because the damage and repair costs are continuing to occur,” Mr. Koekkoek said.

Other residents in Dufferin County weren’t quite as lucky as their Orangeville counterparts. Hydro One reports that 15,858 customers in the Orangeville area were affected as a result of the ice storm. 

Residents from Shelburne and Melancthon took to social media to share their personal stories, with some being forced to go more than 48 hours without power. 

Alicia Sayers, media relations with Hydro One, informed the Citizen that the company had approximately 181 staff working in the Orangeville area, including power line staff, forestry crews, damage assessors and support staff. 

While the situation was bad in some areas of Dufferin County, Ms. Sayers indicated it could have been worse had Hydro One not taken precautionary measures in anticipation of the storm. She noted additional crews were scheduled to assist with repairs in what were projected to be the hardest hit areas. 

As of press time, it has been reported that all Hydro One and Orangeville Hydro customers in the region had had their power restored. 



         

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