• Lauren Mitchell

Power struggle in Vaudreuil-Soulanges area

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Power outages lasting as long as 36 hours hit residents across the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region following freezing rain that began Wednesday, February 24.

Last week’s storm saw strong winds and freezing rain became a hazardous mix for power lines as trees and branches weighed down, causing power interruptions in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region that lasted anywhere from hours to over a day. Nearing the end of day one, the towns of St. Lazare and Hudson both declared a state of emergency due to the fact that approximately 2500 Hudson residents and 3750 St. Lazare residents were without power, and Environment Canada was calling for overnight temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius.

On February 25, both towns decided to open up their community centres in order to house any residents unable to weather the storm in their own homes. Hudson’s Director of Culture and Tourism Nicolas Pedneault was the first to post the new status on social media and to let the community know the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre would remain open and offer snacks and a place to warm up. The Town of Hudson further offered the services of 19 of their own generators to lend to anyone who needed it during the blackout.

St. Lazare opened its community centre February 25 at 6 p.m. where hot beverages were served, and kept the centre open until the power issue was resolved and completely restored. Firefighter teams from both towns were kept busy answering calls from residents facing difficult circumstances. St. Lazare firefighters gave assistance to those who were unable to transport themselves to the community centre, by fielding phone calls from residents and then heading over to pick them up. Hudson firefighters were seen at Hudson’s Medicentre by Your Local Journal’s publisher Joseph Bissonnette, helping carry a man in a wheelchair up two flights of stairs when the building’s generators could not power the elevator.

Hydro-Québec workers were kept busy during outage, as reported by the town of St. Lazare, there were 20 teams of workers spread out in the town trying to release ice-covered branches from the power lines.

It wasn’t only city workers who extended a helping hand during the storm. Local businesses like Woot! Smoked Meat and Pizza in Hudson opened their doors to customers who wanted to enjoy a free, fresh hot cup of coffee. Even citizens of the towns who had been either lucky enough to have a generator or who had happened to get their power back early took to Facebook to open up their homes to anyone who needed it. One woman named Melinda Paradis posted in Community Connections Facebook group that anyone was welcome to come over and grab a cup of coffee if they needed it.

“I’m a mother of young kids, and I know how kids get during a power outage,” said Paradis. “I wanted to open my home to any family that may need power, especially since some kids couldn’t go to school. In this technological world, living without a phone is not easy. I thought I’d let people come in to charge their phones, maybe grab a cup of coffee. I’ve had friends do the same thing in the past, so of course I would do it too. Nobody took me up on my offer, but I did make some new friends because of it.”

A St. Lazare company that manufactures wooden pallets offered firewood to anyone in need. “I have boxes of cut wood set aside for myself which I will give some to anyone who needs without power as it’s going to be cold tonight,” wrote Serena Turner on Facebook.

Power was restored mid-morning Friday, February 26.

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