Blizzard leads to four-day power outage in Akulivik

Mayor says municipal services have now mostly recovered, credits community for coming together to help each other

Akulivik lost its electricity for nearly four days last weekend after strong winds and a blizzard knocked out its power grid (File photo)

By Cedric Gallant - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A two-day blizzard that blew through Nunavik’s Hudson coast starting Feb. 29 left multiple communities buried in heaps of snow.

For some people in the village of Akulivik, it also meant nearly four days without power in temperatures around -20 C after northerly winds approaching 100 km/h snapped a hydro pole.

Akulivik Mayor Eli Angiyou said the hydro worker who was in the community was only a generator maintenance operator and unable to fix the line himself.

When power came back on in part of the community, it prompted the village’s residents to help each other until everyone’s electricity was restored.

The high school had power and the gymnasium was made available for people to come and stay warm.

“Several families were housed by the school during the power outage,” said Angiyou.

Two loaders usually used to clear snow were broken. Angiyou said village officials had to ask Kativik Regional Government for one of its loaders so the airstrip could be cleared and roads made safe to drive.

“We had the brunt of the high winds,” he said. “In spite of all that, the community helped each other, and I was so proud.

“Young people were shovelling the elders’ houses, the organizations here worked together, the Nunavik Police Services worked tirelessly around the clock. I am so proud of them.”

NPS officers were knocking at every powerless homes around the community, making sure people were safe.

Other problems in Akulivik brought on by the power outage include frozen pipes in homes. There was a fire in the medical clinic’s backup generator. And another electrical pole caught fire due to a short circuit.

KRG’s civil security director Craig Lingard said that in the last decade or so, “we have seen increased snowfall, even more so on the Hudson coast communities.”

“What was more expected in a winter season is not the same anymore,” he added.

These winter abnormalities have been seen elsewhere in Nunavik.

“I could say we have had a dozen of hunters and travelers who have encountered weak ice, open water or bad snow conditions this winter,” Lingard said.

In Akulivik, Lingard said that this is the kind of situation that becomes a huge concern.

Adding a power outage, -30 C temperatures and a blizzard can become a high-risk situation.

But he trusts that municipalities are well prepared for these situations.

“If they get overwhelmed at the local level, then we can step up at the regional level and beyond,” he said.

“We’re going to get more and more situations like these as we go forward.”

But with the community helping each other, it made the event more bearable, said Angyiou.

“We have a good community, willing to help each other,” he said.

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Cendrix Bouchard said, “we hurried employees to the community as soon as weather could permit them to land.”

That was Saturday, and that night the crews went to work. By about noon on Sunday, power was restored for everyone in Akulivik.

No other Hudson coast communities are believed to have lost their power during the blizzard.


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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Eskimo Joe©️ on

    Go Larry! HQ almost wiped out a whole community, Nice Makivvik Bonuses🤑 Give them alcohol so they don’t freeze in their icy death beds🥶💸💸


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