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Hydro crews battle winter weather as ice storm repair efforts continue

Enwin Utilities workers from Windsor, Ont., repair damaged power lines in Scarborough on Dec. 26, 2013.

KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Snow overnight sparked more power outages in Toronto as the city grappled with the aftermath of the pre-Christmas ice storm.

Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said Thursday that four feeder lines – which typically serve a few thousand customers each – were brought down. They have since been repaired, he told a morning briefing. By Thursday afternoon the number of customers without power was down to about 48,000, Toronto Hydro said.

About 74,000 customers in Ontario, 7,000 in Quebec and 19,000 in New Brunswick still didn't have power on Boxing Day.

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In Toronto, the number without is about one-sixth the original total but Mr. Haines warned that the work of his crews is slowing. They are getting into the "hand-to-hand combat" of the repair work, he said, when crews will be reconnecting homes one-by-one. He offered no estimate of how much longer it might take to restore power to everyone.

Mr. Haines said that Toronto Hydro's call centre continues to be overwhelmed with people phoning and he urged members of the public not to call repeatedly to say that they don't have electricity. "I want to give people confidence that we know your power is out," he said.

The number of people staying at the city-operated warming centres dropped to 850 last night from a high of 1,000 on Christmas Eve, perhaps a reflection of the moderating outside temperature.

Both Mayor Rob Ford and Public Works Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong, a probable mayoral candidate, said that it was far too early to give even rough estimates of how much the storm will end up costing the city.

A special weather statement was also issued by Environment Canada that 20 to 30 kilometre per hour winds were forecast to hit the Toronto area Thursday afternoon, potentially severing more tree branches and causing more outages.

Meanwhile, Hydro One, which serves 1.3 million customers in Ontario, said it was working on restoring power to 17,000 customers.

Smaller power companies immediately outside of Toronto reported about 4,000 of their clients were still awaiting the return of their electricity.

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With a report from The Canadian Press

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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