Why did it take 12 days to restore power to seniors and others vulnerable on P.E.I.?


By the beginning of the day on Wednesday, Oct. 5 — 12 days into the large outage on Prince Edward Island which at one level had knocked out electrical energy to all the province — Maritime Electric had lowered its variety of outages from 82,000 down to about 9,000.

Yet it was solely on day 12 that the final long-term and group care services and government-owned senior’s housing complexes in P.E.I. have been introduced again on-line, in accordance to the province.

P.E.I.’s Emergency Measures Organization mentioned these seniors’ properties and care services are among the many roughly 1,600 places on the province’s crucial infrastructure checklist, that means they’re thought of a precedence when it comes to restoring power within the wake of outages just like the one left by post-tropical storm Fiona.

Tanya Mullally, the director accountable for the provincial EMO, mentioned that checklist cannot be shared for privateness causes, however that it additionally contains fuel stations, hearth departments, health-care services and buildings designated as municipal reception centres within the occasion of a power outage. 

Questions are being raised as to why it took virtually two weeks in some circumstances to restore power to a number of the Island’s most vulnerable residents, leaving seniors to wander by way of darkened corridors of government-owned house buildings, with neither gentle nor warmth, and inflicting slips and falls amongst care dwelling residents, a few of whom had to be despatched to hospital.

‘Tell us what’s attainable:’ EMO

“We ought to have had power again in each single seniors’ advanced … overlook day 12, that ought to have been achieved on day 2, day 3,” mentioned Peter Bevan-Baker, P.E.I.’s Official Opposition chief.

Mullally mentioned EMO has been working on its prioritization checklist, in session with Maritime Electric, for the previous six months.

EMO is concerned in discussions with Maritime Electric ‘virtually on a day by day foundation’ round priorities for power restoration, says P.E.I. EMO director Tanya Mullally, however that in the end the utility has the liberty to determine the place its assets could be greatest utilized. (Province of P.E.I. )

“They have all of the civic addresses of all of those websites that we have now indicated must be precedence first,” Mullally mentioned.

She mentioned EMO is concerned in discussions with the utility “virtually on a day by day foundation” round these priorities, however in the end the corporate has the liberty to determine the place its assets could be greatest utilized in restoring power.

“It’s a partnership,” mentioned Mullally. “We do not inform them that seniors’ properties or any of these aren’t vital. What we’re saying is that we’d like to do that collectively and determine right now what, the place will we direct our assets.”

“We defer [to] them to make that evaluation and inform us what’s attainable.”

Some areas required ‘full rebuild,’ says utility

In a media briefing on Oct. 3 , Kim Griffin, spokesperson for Maritime Electric, mentioned as soon as the utility ascertained that the province’s electrical connections to the mainland have been okay, “the opposite factor that we actually centered on have been the problems round gasoline and grocery and eating places.”

In some circumstances, Griffin mentioned restoring power to seniors’ services required “a whole rebuild” of the province’s power distribution community in areas the place a number of bushes got here down.

Trees fallen down on house
Downed bushes and properties broken by post-tropical storm Fiona in Charlottetown on Sep. 24, 2022 (Mikee Mutuc/CBC)

“For instance in Charlottetown, round Belvedere for instance, that was a whole rebuild. So it’s not like we do not have them on the precedence checklist, we completely do.”

Another consideration, Griffin mentioned, is that the utility targets crews to areas the place they will “get on as many purchasers as we will at a time.”

The day these feedback have been made — day 10 of the outage — the province mentioned there have been nonetheless seven out of 104 seniors’ housing complexes within the province with out power, positioned in Charlottetown, Cornwall, Mount Stewart and Morell. The province mentioned every had been outfitted with a generator to gentle hallways and widespread areas.

Also with out power on day 10 was Bevan Lodge, a privately-run group care facility in Charlottetown.

We ought to have had power again in each single seniors’ advanced … overlook day 12, that ought to have been achieved on day 2, day 3.— Peter Bevan-Baker, Opposition chief

Owner Charlotte Bevan advised CBC it did not really feel like her facility was a precedence.

“We are supposed to be on the precedence checklist, in order that’s sort of complicated for us,” she mentioned. “Half of the road does have power, however beginning at us, all the best way up the remainder of the road, there is not any power.”

Many of the individuals who stay on the facility battle with psychological or bodily disabilities. “It’s actually onerous on the residents,” Bevan mentioned.

Charlotte Bevan, proprietor of Bevan Lodge, says the power outage has been ‘actually onerous on the residents,’ lots of whom have psychological or bodily disabilities. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Mullally mentioned some non-essential companies and residential clients might need had their power restored earlier than precedence places in the event that they have been on the identical a part of the grid as one other piece of crucial infrastructure.

For instance, some Charlottetown residents have been among the many first to get their lights again on based mostly on their proximity to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Irving gasoline tank yard, each thought of prime priorities as soon as work was underway to restore power.

Province searching for turbines

Social Development and Housing Minister Matthew MacKay has no criticism for Maritime Electric or the restoration course of that left vulnerable residents in services his division is accountable for with out power for up to 12 days.

Instead MacKay mentioned the services themselves require important upgrades to make them extra resilient the subsequent time the power goes out.

“We’re going to have a really aggressive capital funds come this fall that is going to contain plenty of these seniors’ models,” he mentioned.

“We’re going to have a look at all of the models to see what number of can use a generator — plenty of the buildings are older so turbines aren’t going to work in all of them — and what different assets we will use so seniors do not go one other 10-12 days with out warmth or lights sooner or later.”


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