Despite their priority status, residences for seniors (RPA) in Montreal were without electricity for more than four days since they were not on the Public Security lists. Hydro-Québec intends to take corrective action while relatives of residents denounce “unacceptable” management.
At a time when tens of thousands of customers were still waiting to find electricity, at the Providence Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Westmount One residences, in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, power did not return until early Sunday evening.
Thus, elderly people, although autonomous, remained plunged into darkness in their apartment for four days, according to testimonies of employees met on site and relatives collected by La Presse.
“It is not at all true that the RPAs were reconnected first, lamented one of them. There may be light in the hallways, but in the apartments it is dark. »
Indeed, hospitals, CHSLDs and seniors’ residences had to be reconnected as a priority, Hydro-Québec announced earlier this week.
Asked if some of these establishments still had no power on Sunday, the vice-president, operations and maintenance, at Hydro-Québec, Régis Tellier, replied that “to [his] knowledge, no […] unless let there be an event at this time”.
In the evening, a spokesperson for the state-owned company, Francis Labbé, however, offered new insight into the situation. Indeed, he admitted, some RPAs were not registered as such on the lists of their Regional Civil Security Organization.
“What you’re finding is that sometimes there are organizations that are actually RPAs, but maybe not listed as such or haven’t come forward as such,” he said. indicated by adding that these RPAs were therefore not “raised to the level that they should have”.
Hydro-Québec intends to revise its processes following this episode, specifies Francis Labbé. “We’ll come back to that, to see if we have the correct codes and all the information. »
This situation, however, caused a lot of headaches for relatives of residents like at the Manoir Outremont, where the electricity came back on Saturday afternoon, three days after the start of the outage.
Owned by the management company Cogir, the private establishment of a dozen floors has more than 300 accommodations, including a care unit for people with cognitive disorders.
On Wednesday, a resident was stuck for at least an hour in a broken elevator, said his daughter, Pascale Lacroix, whose two parents live at Manoir Outremont.
“They called me at 5:30 p.m. to tell me that they couldn’t find my father, and they took him out of the elevator at 6:20 p.m.,” says Ms. Lacroix, whose emails to the management of the Manoir Outremont went unanswered.
On Thursday, the residence contacted her to pick up her parents.
She temporarily housed her father in her home, but her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, remained in the prosthetic unit with no heat and no light the whole time.
“She hasn’t been out for three years, she doesn’t recognize us,” says Ms. Lacroix.
” This is unacceptable “
Frantz André cannot believe what he saw inside Manoir Outremont, where his mother lives.
“There was no elevator, no light. People had to go down the stairs in the dark,” he said. Aged 93, her mother was very affected by the cold. “She’s not like before. »
According to him, all residences should have a generator at their disposal in case a breakdown lasts several days. ” This is unacceptable. A company like this should have had an emergency protocol. Everyone was panicked,” he said.
Some residents have been taken in by their families until the power returns. This is particularly the case of Vivianne who brought her mother back to the residence on Sunday morning.
“I didn’t think it was safe to leave her here.” There was no light on the stairs. Imagine if there had been a fire”, denounces the one who did not wish to be identified by her full name.
Martin Côté, whose mother is also a resident, wonders about the time Hydro-Québec took to reconnect the private establishment. “For a residence of 300 apartments, I find it really surprising that the outage lasted so long,” he notes.
Joined on Sunday, the president of the Cogir management company, Frédéric Soucy, defended the management of the business from the outage at Manoir Outremont.
The facility did have a diesel generator that powered hallway lights, some of the facility’s kitchen units and an emergency elevator, he said.
Flashlights and fluorescent bracelets were distributed to all residents who were also offered meals even if their lease did not provide for them, and the staff was doubled.
The company, however, intervened on Saturday morning with the cabinet of the ministers of health and energy when it found that the RPA was the only building on its power line not to have reconnected.
Cogir, however, had no explanation to provide as to why Manoir Outremont had to wait so long before being reconnected. “We’ll probably ask for it in the next few days,” he said.
Residents of the Manoir Royal Saint-Eustache, another RPA managed by Cogir, also had to wait until Saturday to find electricity, while other establishments of the company were able to be reconnected earlier.
If the trend continues, Hydro-Québec will be able to restore power to 95% of its customers as promised, even if some households will have to resign themselves to waiting longer.
At around 9:45 p.m., there were still 44,924 customers without electricity. Montreal remained the most affected region with 29,832 customers without electricity, compared to around 190,000 at the same time the day before.
Outaouais (6,239), Montérégie (5,580) and Laval (3,138) follow with the largest number of Hydro-Québec customers still without electricity.