© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Dan MacRae, centre and Grant Boswall, check their bags with Air Canada customer service representative Allan Bagley at the Charlottetown Airport Monday night. The men are among six employees of Maritime Electric going to Newfoundland to help power crews restore power.
Six Prince Edward Island men waiting for cancelled flight to get rebooked so they can help restore power in storm-battered province
For the second time this winter season, Islanders are packing up and heading out to help neighbours cope with electricity disruptions.
Six staff of Maritime Electric from across P.E.I. were set to take off Monday from Charlottetown, expecting to arrive in Newfoundland and Labrador about midnight and begin work early today.
Their flight was cancelled but the workers still plan to rebook and fly out as soon as possible.
Newfoundland has been hit with four days of rolling blackouts, a transformer fire and a power-plant malfunction all during recent storms and bitter cold. At the peak of problems Saturday, 190,000 customers were without power in the province of 527,000 residents.
By late Monday, the Newfoundland and Labrador government said fewer than 5,000 customers were still without power, but that number will fluctuate.
At the Charlottetown Airport Monday, the Maritime Electric volunteers were busy arranging heavy work boots, harnesses, wrenches and ball-peen hammers among their luggage to meet the weight restrictions.
The crew includes Jeff Arsenault and Grant Boswall of the Charlottetown district, who also volunteered as part of 12 Maritime Electric staff from P.E.I. that went to New Brunswick Dec. 26 and returned Jan. 2.
They were helping restore power after a massive ice load from freezing rain cut power to more than 50,000 customers.
Joining Arsenault and Boswell for the Newfoundland trip are Jason Flick, Tyler Pineau, Dan MacRae and foreman Bruce Turner, from the western district.
“We will be working on the distribution system, restoring power to customers,” said Turner.
The Island crew could be there for a few days or up to a week, depending on the need.
“We are a helping hand,” said Turner.
“After an extended period of time working, people start to get tired and you have to make sure they get their rest periods, so to keep the restoration going at a nice, steady pace, they try and stagger the crew schedule so we are there to fill in with help where needed.”