Northerners Cope With Frigid, Day-Long Blackout

Monday, December 14, 2009 at 10:51



(Editor’s note: We apologize for the delay in uploading Friday’s news stories to our website, which resulted from the loss of power in the La Ronge area.)


Residents of northeast Saskatchewan were in for a long, cold wait in the dark Friday, as SaskPower crews tried to return power in brutally cold temperatures.


A downed transmission line caused power to go out for the entire area north of Timber Cove along Hwy. 2 and Hwy. 102 to Southend around 9:40 Friday morning, and it was not back on until early that evening.


Temperatures in La Ronge were sitting at -46 degrees Celsius with the wind chill.


Classes at the local schools were cancelled, and many local businesses sent their employees home early.


Meantime, according to the mayor of La Ronge an emergency plan is needed.


Thomas Sierzycki says that while emergency services are on stand-by with warm locations available, there is no specific plan to deal with a prolonged power outage during winter weather.


Sierzycki says that it is time to get pro-active, rather than simply reactive.


“The health centre is taking care of people in their whole division, so they’re working hard on that. Emergency services — EMS, fire — everyone’s on alert. If anyone needs help, they can phone 9-1-1, and they’ll be assisted as well. We have a warm building over at the fire hall; people need to come down. So basically we have no set plan, but we’re just trying to get by. And for sure it’s an indicator that in the future, we need a distinct plan with our neighbouring municipalities and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band to get things done for people,” he says.


Sierzycki adds that aside from negotiating with the province to ensure that the region has an adequate power supply, there is little the Town of La Ronge can do to prevent recurring outages.