Island of Lamèque cut off from mainland following thunderstorm in Acadian Peninsula

More than 4,400 NB Power customers are still without power this morning after a violent thunderstorm ripped through the Acadian Peninsula on Thursday night.

At its peak, close to 7,000 NB Power customers in the province were without power. 

Heavy winds split power poles in half and tore large roofing tiles off a store in downtown Caraquet, one of the areas worst hit. Lamèque and Shippagan were also impacted by the storm. 

Environment Canada investigators are in northern New Brunswick today, looking at the damage left behind by the  thunderstorm and at videos of what could be “tornadic activity.”

Claude Côté, a warning preparedness meteorologist in New Brunswick, said Friday morning there are unconfirmed reports of tornadoes and according to specialists in Ontario, wind gusts may have reached 190 km/h.

“So this is comparable to hurricane force winds or also of a … tornado,” he said.

Robert Duguay, spokesperson with New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization [NBEMO], said a bridge between the town of Shippagan to Lamèque Island has been closed after several electric poles fell onto the bridge. He said the Canadian Coast Guard also had to rescue a boat that was stranded in the water during the storm.


A bridge between the town of Shippagan to Lamèque Island has been closed after several electric poles fell onto the bridge. (Google maps)

Duguay said Lamèque, located in the northern part of the province, is currently cut off from the mainland and will be without power for the next several hours.

Repair work to be complex

“We’re talking about electric poles that are located in very awkward situations, very difficult locations on the bridge, so that could require more time,” he said. “That bridge is directly to the wind and got hit very hard.”

The bridge will remain closed to traffic and pedestrians. The only access will be for emergency vehicles. The bridge is expected to open again by Saturday morning.

Duguay said the repair work will be complex, as both transmission and distribution lines have been damaged. 

“All the poles fell down and fell directly in the middle of the road, which made the road very dangerous last night,” he said.   

Duguay said Thursday night’s storm was a replica of the January ice storm that hit the area earlier this year, but the impact is limited to a small area and the storm was brief.

“The situation is now stable,” he said. “It was a very quick … major storm that hit very hard on the Acadian Peninsula.” 

He said there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities and that NBEMO has activated its Regional Operation Emergency Centre within the Peninsula.

‘It was a very sudden and intense thunder and lightning storm.’ – Marie Andrée Bolduc, NB Power

Air patrol will also be used Friday morning to help with damage assessment, as crews work to restore power and replace poles and equipment as necessary.

Marie Andrée Bolduc, spokesperson for NB Power, said up to 20 poles fell following Thursday night’s thunderstorm.

“It was a very sudden and intense thunder and lightning storm,” said Bolduc.

She said NB Power will assess what needs to be done in the area on Friday morning and that additional crews from across the province will be helping restore power lines, as well as providing replacement equipment, such as more poles.

Dans la péninsule acadienne, la tempête de jeudi soir a surpris les gens par sa rapidité et son intensité. Suivez nos journalistes François Vigneault, Michèle Brideau et Catherine Dumas :

Posted by ICI Acadie on Friday, May 19, 2017

“All hands are on deck, but the assessment and repairs will continue throughout the day,” she said. 

Estimated restoration times will be posted on the NB Power website as they become available.

Residents are advised to stay clear of downed lines, trees and equipment for safety reasons. Residents are also asked to drive slowly in affected areas and watch for crews working to restore power near the roads.

Using generators with caution

NBEMO reminds New Brunswickers to use generators with caution. Never run generators or cook with an open flame inside a home or garage, as these activities create carbon monoxide, which is extremely dangerous. Testing batteries in carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors is recommended.

If power is out, turn down heat sources and unplug major appliances in advance of power restoration to avoid a surge in demand that has the potential to cause more outages.

NBEMO said it will continue to  monitor the region and prepare to co-ordinate emergency response as necessary.

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