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Most of 1 million Hydro-Québec customers expected to remain without power for days after ice storm

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The latest: 

  • Schools are cancelled in much of the Montreal area.
  • As of 12 p.m. ET Thursday, 1 million Hydro-Québec customers were without power.
  • Hydro-Québec says most households will have power back within 24 hours.  CBC will have live coverage here and you can follow updates on CBC Radio One.
  • Thursday’s forecast calls for rain and a high of 11 C in Montreal.
  • If the power or data on your device is low, get your storm updates on CBC Lite. It’s our low-bandwidth, text-only website.
  • To keep an eye on the outages, click here.

More than one million customers are still without power as of Thursday morning, and some of them are likely to stay without it for days after an ice storm coated much of southern Quebec in a layer of ice, felling trees and causing flooding.

Hydro-Québec has deployed about 1,100 workers to restore power, but the crews are facing more than 2,200 outages, Pierre Fitzgibbon, the minister responsible for the Montreal area, said at a Thursday morning news conference.

The good news, he added, was that 25 per cent of those outages were large, affecting more than 1,000 people each. That means the workers could prioritize those outages, and, Fitzgibbon said, one-third of those without power would have it by the end of the day on Thursday.

“I think it’s under control,” Fitzgibbon said. “Montreal is devastated currently …  but we think it will be under control very quickly.”

WATCH | Ice storm power outages in Montreal:

most of 1 million hydro quebec customers expected to remain without power for days after ice storm

Power outages ‘severe’ for Montreal, but work underway

3 hours ago

Duration 3:52

Quebec energy minister says teams are on the ground, 1/3 of outages should be fixed within 24 hours.

Régis Tellier, the vice-president of operations and maintenance for Hydro-Québec, said most clients should have their power back in the next 24 hours, but some “more complex” outages would continue into the weekend.

Sophie Brochu, the president and CEO of Hydro-Québec, said the provincial power utility is doing everything it can “to get the power back on as fast as possible.”

Brochu and Tellier asked drivers in Montreal to move their vehicles if they see Hydro-Québec crews on their streets.

Tellier said the priority is to restore power in hospitals and municipal infrastructure, but the storm had caused nowhere near the damage to the electrical distribution network as the 1998 ice storm, which toppled major transmission lines. This storm has mostly affected local transmission lines.

Flooding south of Montreal

Environment Canada said 40 millimetres of precipitation fell on the metropolis on Wednesday, much of it freezing rain that coated tree limbs, breaking branches and tumbling them onto power lines.

The rain and ice led to flooding in Châteauguay, which read full news on