Emergency ends, heat back on in Norman Wells

Emergency ends, heat back on in Norman Wells

Norman Wells residents are warm again in their homes after the town declared a state of emergency last Monday morning when a power outage cut off the natural gas supply.

“We’re looking good now. We had our gas supply stabilized by 4:00 p.m. Monday and things are proceeding well,” Mayor Harold McGregor told The Journal last Wednesday. “We suffered minimal damages, water froze in the pipes of a few houses, but it could have been worse.”

A power failure at Imperial Oil early Monday morning triggered a controlled system shutdown, Pius Rolheiser, a spokesperson for the company that supplies the town with natural gas, said.

Temperatures were a bone-chilling -42C and with the windchill, it felt like -50C, McGregor said.

About a dozen seniors were moved over to the daycare centre in accordance with safety precautions within the town’s Emergency Measures Organization. Members of the public were also invited to gather at Mackenzie Mountain School if their houses were too cold. Only a few did so, the mayor said.

According to McGregor, about half the town uses natural gas to heat their homes. The outage also affected the entire downtown area.

“Our first priority was to get production re-established to have sufficient volumes of gas to supply the town,” Rolheiser said. “We began to do this by 2:00 p.m. Monday.”

Imperial Oil crews were flown in from Calgary to help get the generators going. It will be another few days before everything is back to normal in terms of operations at the plant.

“There is still a whole bunch of equipment affected by this,” Rolheiser said.

The Norman Wells’ Emergency Measures Organization handled the situation smoothly and professionally, McGregor said, as they kept residents informed and helped relocate those who needed it, emptying water tanks and later relighting furnaces.

An investigation by Imperial Oil is underway to determine the source of the power outage.

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