MHAs address power outage

Paul Herridge
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The time for questions will come, but Grand Bank MHA Darin King said the main priority Monday was ensuring everyone in the province has their electricity restored.
Speaking with The Southern Gazette, Mr. King, the province's justice minister, praised the efforts of municipal leaders, volunteers and community members in general during this weekend's winter storm and power outage that affected the entire Burin Peninsula.

"It was a real coming together and certainly demonstrated the true spirit of sharing and kindness," he said, also acknowledging the long hours punched by Newfoundland Power employees in recent days.

"A number of questions were, of course, raised through this, and I have a number of concerns that I'm going to raise with the appropriate people when the times comes around what happened and how it happened and why, and whether we ought to have done something different or whether we can do something different in the future."

Education Minister MHA Clyde Jackman arrived back in the province Saturday night and he, too, offered his gratitude to people in his district for their cooperation and patience.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but hopefully we've seen the worst of it and we can return to some kind of normalcy now," the representative for Burin-Placentia West told The Gazette Monday morning.

Mr. Jackman said he wasn't aware of any major emergencies in his district over the weekend but noted he had been in contact with a number of people with other concerns such as frozen pipes in their homes.

"Right now, the focus is on making sure the essential services are in place, but (home damage is) something that I will be checking on for individuals as we work our way through this."

Much is being made at the moment over comments Premier Kathy Dunderdale has made insisting the power outage, which initially affected nearly 200,000 customers in the province, was or is not a "crisis."

Mr. Jackman echoed further assertions from the premier, calling it "a matter of perspective from everybody's own individual situation."

He said he was without power at his home in St. John's for about six or seven hours.

"To me, that's not a crisis. To some people out there, who've had it gone longer than that and who've experienced pipes busted and find themselves in that type of situation, to them it's a crisis.

"Overall, I see this as something we can manage our way through. So the term 'crisis' speaks to something more extreme. Now, if we're talking about seniors, for example, who find themselves in very challenging situations, well that definitely is a crisis for them."

Mr. King, who said it was the premier's role to speak for the provincial government, offered his own thoughts on the past couple of days.

"From my perspective, any time you have people without power for an extended period of time, whether it's 30,000 or 30 to be frank, I think is a very serious situation."

"I tried to treat it that way through all possible avenues that I had - email, Facebook and Twitter. I tried to keep communicating with my constituents, sharing up-to-date information. I took a high number of phone calls from people and assisted people in getting to warmer places and getting food delivered."

Both government officials acknowledged the need for residents to continue to watch their power usage in the coming days as the situation stabilizes.

Mr. Jackman indicated government would be taking energy conservation measures at a number of its buildings as well.

Mr. King, who described the recent cold snap, snowstorm and fire at the Sunnyside terminal station as a "coming together of all the worse possible scenarios that could have happened," said he understood and empathized with people, as his own family was also affected.

"I find in these situations, in most cases, people just want to know what's happening and the more information you can give them the better."

Organizations: Newfoundland Power, The Gazette, Sunnyside terminal

Geographic location: St. John's

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