State of emergency continues in northern Canadian town

Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, Canada. Photo: Eilís QuinnMayor will not lift status until second backup generator is running

A state of emergency continues today in Norman Wells as one of the town’s two backup generators is still not operating following a natural gas service failure.

The town of 800 people is located in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The town declared the emergency Monday after a power outage cut off the natural gas to the community for about 12 hours, as temperatures hovered around —40 C.

By noon Monday, homes started to get cold. Residents scrambled to buy fuel for generators to heat their homes, and many homeowners prepared to drain water lines to prevent their pipes from freezing.

Sarah Baker flew her elderly mother to the community of Inuvik, N.W.T., to ensure she stayed comfortable.

“I thought if I had heaters going and blankets, I would be warm enough if you heat the one room. But we were also prepared to head toward Tulita on the winter road. Either or,” she said.

Mayor Gregor Harold McGregor said the town was prepared for a worst-case scenario: they were close to chartering planes to get people out of town.

McGregor said if the town had not received a positive response in an update from natural gas provider Imperial Oil “we were going to start moving people.”

Luckily, Imperial Oil restored service to the town by mid-afternoon. The company flew extra crew members up from Calgary. However, they were only able to get one of two backup generators up and running.

McGregor said he is reluctant to lift the state of emergency until both generators are operational.

Imperial Oil is now investigating what caused the power outage. The town is expecting an update from the company this morning.

Related Link:

N.W.T. town restoring gas to homes after morning failure, CBC News

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