Iqaluit apartment dwellers describe wind storm ordeals
“I woke up to a banging of more roof coming off”
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.)
Vivien Summers of Iqaluit realized last night’s wind storm was getting serious when she heard a loud racket at around 11 p.m.
It was part of her apartment building’s roof being ripped off.
“That’s when we lost hydro, and we heard the first parts of the roof start to blow off,” Summers said.
Summers is a resident of the Northview Apartment REIT building known as Iqaluit House.
It’s one of two apartment buildings in downtown Iqaluit that suffered major damage in the storm—the other being Grinnell Place, which is owned by the same company.
In what meteorologists called a “weather bomb,” the storm that hit Iqaluit created winds gusting up to 114 kilometres per hour by 1 a.m. on Friday morning.
Last night, RCMP vehicles formed a security perimeter to block the road to the buildings, as the heavy corrugated sheetmetal flew from the buildings into the street.
“This part of the roof was half hanging off and blew off this morning,” Summers said, pointing to a large crumpled strip of roofing that blocked the back stairway into her building.
“Something must have happened around 4 a.m. because I woke up to a banging of more roof coming off.”
Red caution tape could be seen stretching around areas of debris downtown, as heavy rocks held down the largest pieces of metal.
“It was scary, we were down here watching it get blown away,” said Linda Pitsiulak. who also lives in Iqaluit House.
When she went upstairs to get her camera, she looked out her window and saw a large section of roof slide to the other side of the building and collide with nearby power lines, causing sparks, she said.
At one point Pitsiulak considered sleeping in the hallway.
Two cars parked across from the Capital Suites hotel are damaged by debris—one vehicle has a smashed back windshield.
The storm subsided this morning, with Environment Canada ending its wind warning at 10:30 a.m.
City workers and power crews continued to work to clear debris and repair damage around Iqaluit.
By about 6:30 p.m. Qulliq Energy Corp. had good news to share.
Iqaluit: Repairs to the damaged power pole have been completed in West 40. Power has been restored to all customers in the city. Remaining streetlight repairs will be completed tomorrow morning after restoration crews have rested. Thank you for your patience.
— Qulliq Energy Corp. (@QulliqEnergy) October 5, 2018
During Friday, limited city services restored, according to the city, but residents on trucked services were asked to conserve water.
“The city’s primary objective is to restore water delivery and removal of waste as soon as reasonably possible,” the city said in a public advisory.
Government of Nunavut offices remained closed in Iqaluit, as well as in Sanikiluaq and Kimmirut.
Still, some offices and businesses in Iqaluit were open or planned to reopen in the afternoon, although others, including some restaurants, stores, schools and daycares, decided to remain closed.
The main post office on Queen Elizabeth Way remained closed due to debris.
The CIBC branch also remained inaccessible due to debris in the hard-struck area near the post office Iqaluit House, which lost much of its roof and cladding.
The bank assured its clients that it would reimburse any extra fees due to transactions done at other ATMs around the city.
The storm also shook other south Baffin communities. The Qulliq Energy Corp. said it’s managed to restore power to nearly all customers in Iqaluit, Cape Dorset and Kimmirut.
Still some in Iqaluit reported outages Friday afternoon.
And in Pangnirtung, the winds continued to blow throughout the afternoon.
Windy day 2.0 pic.twitter.com/l7aov66MJx
— Daniel Kuluguqtuq (@dkulugutuk) October 5, 2018
Further south, Nunavik also experienced heavy winds, with an Environment Canada wind warning issued for Kuujjuaq, where winds were expected to gust up to 90 km/hr, diminishing to about 60 km/hr around midnight.
At midday on Friday, there were still wind warnings in place for Aupaluk, Inukjuak, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Puvirnituq, Taisujaq and Umiujaq.
“I confirm there is some power outages in Nunavik following the strong wind and the storm,” a Hydro Québec spokesperson told Nunatsiaq News.
Most of the damage in Nunavik is caused by broken electrical wires and some power outages were caused by wires coming into contact with each other because of the strong winds, the spokesperson said.
“There are about 30 people from our local crews in Nunavik who are working to restore power. Other crews will join them when we are authorized to fly…,” the spokesperson said.
Hydro Québec later provided these figures, which suggest that as of the end of the day Friday, only a few Nunavik customers were still without power:
• Aupaluk: one customer without power.
• Inukjuak: one customer without power.
• Kuujjuaq: 10 customers without power.
• Kuujjuarapik: two customers without power.
• Tasiujaq: four customers without power.
With files from Beth Brown, Jane George and Sarah Rogers