Hurricane Dorian: One Year Later

Hurricane Dorian: One Year Later

It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since Hurricane Dorian’s record breaking 145km/hour winds blew across Nova Scotia. It was an unforgettable storm with the greatest impact in our province’s history.

At its peak, Dorian knocked out power for 412,000 customers. And on top of that, more than 50,000 additional outages occurred, most caused by weakened trees.

On our front lines, over 1,000 power line technicians, forestry technicians and damage assessors worked to repair Dorian’s destruction including crews from Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Maine, and Florida that worked tirelessly alongside us.

It’s a response that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our customers and business owners in communities across Nova Scotia. You opened your doors, waved at our trucks, and kept our crews fed. Your generosity and encouragement kept us going—even on the longest days of restoration.

To mark the one-year anniversary, we asked members of our team to reflect and share their most memorable Dorian moments.

Preparing for the storm

Matt Drover, Director of Operations: We’re constantly watching the weather forecast to make sure we have a strong plan in place before a storm arrives. We do assessments based on the intensity of the storm and compare it to historical storms to determine the potential impact on trees and our infrastructure. We look at what areas will be affected and decide where we need to pre-stage extra resources like out-of-province crews. For about two weeks before Dorian, we were watching the storm develop and track towards Nova Scotia. Based on our assessment, we knew we needed hundreds of crews stationed across the province. We also opened our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in advance of the storm, which is the hub for our storm response. The EOC team includes experts that focus on all aspects of storm restoration—from transmission and distribution operations, to safety, communications, logistics and coordination with the provincial emergency management office.

Truck convoyfueling up the evening before Dorian arrived

Dorian’s impact

Keith O’Callaghan, Halifax Operations Manager: When Dorian hit, we made the decision to stand down all crews while the winds were above 90km/hour. It was the safest approach and the right thing to do with so many trees and wires falling—but it was tough too, because our crews are so dedicated. They were anxious to restore power for customers as soon as possible—but understood that we had to do that safely. Once it was safe to do so, restoration work got started. I was able to do some damage assessment on the first morning after the storm in the South End of Halifax and that’s when I really appreciated what we were up against.  Lots of big trees that survived so many other major storms were down across roads, there were roots up in the air, and damage to homes, buildings and businesses throughout the city.

Fallen trees on Quinpool Road in Halifax

Trevor Beaton, Forestry Manager: To see the number of mature trees that were on the road, the downed lines, and the fallen poles—it was eye opening. We saw everything from branches being snapped off to 100-foot trees being completely uprooted.

Damage from a snapped branch in Halifax

Restoration work in Centreville, NS

Putting in the work

Matt Drover: We had more than 1000 people working in the field—the sheer logistics behind coordinating that was incredible. We worked with government and the military to ensure there were rooms for everyone to sleep and food for them to eat, the military cleared roads for us—the whole province banded together. There were so many small businesses, hotels and restaurants that helped us out and ensured our crews were taken care of. The support was overwhelming.

Regional Planner, Doug King posing with team members from the Canadian Armed Forces

A downed pole in Halifax

Keith O’Callaghan: I was really proud to see the comradery between our power line technicians, the forestry crews, the contractor crews, and all of the out-of-province teams. They were putting long hours in and were up against some serious damage. But everyone was focused and dedicated to getting the power back on as quickly and safely as possible.

Crews from NL Hydro

Derek Henderson, Customer Care Representative: Everyone across Nova Scotia Power was focused on storm response. It meant that some people were taking on roles that were different from their day-to-day. We had team members that normally work in offices out in the field doing damage assessment, and so many employees volunteered in the Customer Care Centre. We received over 400,000 calls and stayed open 24/7 to make sure we were answering questions and providing the latest updates. We followed up with our customers to check on them, we provided information on comfort centers, and we worked with our field crews to help our customers with emergency situations.

Members of the Customer Care team during Dorian

Crystal Sheen, Work Plan Coordinator: Some parts of our province are so remote and hard to reach, but we weren’t going to stop until every last customer was restored. It meant in some cases we needed to helicopter in equipment and use barges to boat out excavators to islands like the LaHave Islands and Moshers Island. We did whatever it took!

Restoration teams taking flight on the South Shore

Damage assessment in rural parts of NS can mean patrolling the lines by helicopter to ensure nothing is missed. Annapolis County, NS

Community support

Keith O’Callaghan: I was able to go out and talk to people living in areas that were hardest hit. I felt so much support and I know our crews did too. To hear people cheering us on, bringing coffee to the crews, honking and waiving—it made a huge difference to the moral of our teams, especially while we were working extremely long days.

Crystal Sheen: The support from customers is something I’ll never forget. The kindness and generosity went such a long way. It really does keep you energized when you’re working in the field. It’s a good reminder of why we do the work that we do. You can’t beat the feeling of knowing you’re helping to keep our communities safe and to get the lights back on.

Customers in Bear River delivering hot coffee and treats for crews

Taking a well-deserved break to enjoy a slice of pie from a customer in South End Halifax

Looking ahead

Matt Drover: We learned so much from Dorian and we’ll be applying that to our storm response efforts this year. After every storm we do an analysis of what worked well and what can be improved; we make action plans to be completed before the storm season. We’ve held sessions with the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office to discuss ways to collaborate further and respond faster. Since Dorian, we’ve placed a big focus on vegetation management. With so many trees weakened, we’ve been cleaning up debris and trimming damaged trees. This plays a huge role in outage prevention. I hope we don’t see another storm like Dorian again, but our planning never stops. As always, the next time a storm arrives, we’ll be ready.

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A big thank you to all of our customers who were impacted by Hurricane Dorian. All of our teams—especially those working in the field each day—felt your encouragement and support.  For more information about storm preparedness and safety, visit nspower.ca/stormready.


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