Storms that ripped through Quebec in May cost Hydro $70 million in repairs


Immediately after the derecho, more than 550,000 Hydro-Québec clients were without electricity.

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A string of storms that battered Quebec on May 21 caused $70 million in damage to Hydro-Québec’s distribution network, and the final bill may well end up being higher, the utility reported on Tuesday.

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The storm front plowed into the Outaouais, Laurentians, Lanaudière, Mauricie and Quebec City regions as well as Ontario, packing winds of more than 150 km/h and triggering thousands of power outages. In Quebec, more than 550,000 clients were without electricity.

The storm was a derecho, a powerful and long-lasting windstorm associated with rapidly moving thunderstorms. It was 300 kilometres long by 100 kilometres wide.

A total of 11,254 outages were recorded by Hydro-Québec. About 90 per cent of the blackouts were caused by storm-tossed branches and other debris. In the end, 1,125 hydro poles and 400 transformers had to be replaced and 40 kilometres of wire reinstalled.

The repair effort required 2,000 employees deployed over 11 days and line personnel logged 160,000 hours of work.

While some Hydro-Québec customers complained about the time it took to effect repairs, the utility reported that power was restored to 85 per cent of its clientele within 72 hours. Six days after the storm, power was restored to 95 per cent of the homes affected.

The major deployment has led to the postponement of regularly scheduled work by the utility.

The May 21 storm was blamed for the deaths of at least 11 people in Quebec and Ontario.

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