Lights were slowly beginning to come back on Tuesday afternoon as SaskPower crews worked to deal with massive power outages across much of the southern and central parts of the province.
While all power was believed to be restored as of Tuesday night, SaskPower cautioned the province is not in the clear until the frost disappears, explaining if this was a storm situation the storm is not over yet.
Between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. SaskPower took approximately 33,000 calls reporting outages across the province. Parts of Regina, Moose Jaw and Weyburn and all surrounding communities were affected for at least part of the day.
According to an email from SaskPower, the last communities of Oxbow and Carnduff had power restored around 10 p.m. It is possible some small pockets of customers or individual homes in rural areas may have no power, but those outages need to be reported so crews can address them.
Outages also briefly affected Saskatoon Tuesday morning. Areas surrounding the Bridge City were also without power for several hours, including Rosthern, Humbodlt and Wadena.
Hundreds of SaskPower workers were dispatched across the province to try to restore service. While some areas began to come back online before noon, others were told power might be restored until late Tuesday afternoon at the earliest.
SaskPower is posting the latest updates to a blog on its website.
SaskPower said units at Boundary Dam, Shand and Poplar River Power Stations tripped off and lost generation Tuesday morning. Those were slowly being brought back into service.
Days of frost buildup caused power lines around the province to fall and sag. SaskPower noted any downed or damaged line could still potentially be live and warned people to stay away and report any damaged lines they see.
SaskPower also warned people against using gas-powered generators inside any house, garage or enclosed building due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Any homeowner wanting to use a generator was advised they need to have a transfer switch installed.
“Without a transfer switch, your generator will feed power back into the lines, creating a serious hazard for our personnel working to restore power,” SaskPower said on its website.
While activity ground to a halt for many Regina businesses, neighbourhoods that had power were quite busy. Parking lots and coffee shops in Harbour Landing were packed with people Tuesday morning who said those locations were the only ones that were open.
Some people said they were spending time running errands or grabbing coffee because their medical appointments had been cancelled.
Regina-area schools cancel classes, police urge drivers to be cautious
By mid-day many schools around Regina had cancelled classes and sent students home due to the lack of electricity.
The list of public schools that cancelled classes for the afternoon included: Adult Campus, Arcola, Balfour, Braun, Bryant, Campus Regina Public, Coldwell, Connaught, Coronation Park, The Crescents, Douglas Park, Ferguson, Glen Elm, Dr. Hanna, Harvest City Christian, Imperial, Johnson, Kitchener, Knoll, Lakeview, Lee, Martin, McDermid, McDonald, Mironuck, Pawson, Regina Christian, Regina Huda, Scott, Seven Stones, Thom, Thomson, Wilfrid Walker.
In an update issued at 11:30 a.m., the school board explained parents “must pick up their students or give permission to the schools to release them.” The board noted schools would stay open for students who couldn’t go home.
By 11 a.m. Tuesday, Regina Catholic Schools announced it was releasing students at all of its schools without power.
Spokeswoman Twyla West said parents were being notified and could pick up their kids. West said staff at the schools would remain there with the students throughout the day.
Schools with cancelled classes in that division included Miller and O’Neill high schools along with several elementary schools including: Holy Rosary, St. Augustine, St. Bernadette, Jean Vanier, Sacred Heart, St. Michael, St. Peter, St. Catherine, Mother Theresa middle school, St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Luke, St. Gregory, St. Mary, St. Pius, St. Kateri, St. Theresa and St. Timothy.
Schools with power remained open with normal classes for the day.
The University of Regina cancelled all classes and shut down offices for the entire day.
Regina City Hall closed down for the afternoon and cancelled the Light the Lights event planned for Tuesday evening.
While there were no immediate water supply issues, the city did ask residents to take steps to conserve water if possible.
There are no immediate water issues, but we are asking residents to take steps to conserve water by limiting non-essential water use, such as doing laundry. Consider ‘cabin’ rules for flushing. Stay close to home and follow SaskPower for the latest information and tips. #SKOutage
— City of Regina (@CityofRegina) December 4, 2018
With traffic lights out on many major roadways around the city, SGI and Regina Police reminded drivers to treat all intersections as four-way stops.
Regina police responded to several minor collisions. No injuries were reported but some property was damged.