Celebrating Lineworker Appreciation Day

Celebrating Lineworker Appreciation Day

Have you thanked a Lineworker lately?

If you haven’t, you can do so as part of National Lineworker appreciation day, celebrated yearly on July 10.

Severe weather events across the country are increasing in numbers and demonstrate the importance of Lineworkers and their role in keeping our lights on and restoring power safely and efficiently to Canadians across the country.

A perfect storm surprised most of Ontario, on Saturday during what is considered the first unofficial long weekend of summer. What Durham region presumed as a severe thunderstorm, was later confirmed as a Derecho ― defined as a string of thunderstorms that affected the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor.

Oshawa Power teams are long-standing members of the community and are no stranger to storms – remember the ice storm of 2013?

The Q&A below highlights the impact and contribution of line workers during and after severe weather systems. According to Mike Weatherbee, Manager, Distribution Construction, his amazing team quickly assembled and formed a storm response plan to assess the damage, and get the city back online, with enough time left over to help fellow utilities afterwards.


Q: What was different about this storm?

A: This storm was fast and furious – with winds up to 100km/h in the region and several tornadoes, this storm created extensive damage along a path that extended across the 1,000-kilometre corridor. The storm brought down power lines and trees across the region and left many upset and with damage unseen in the region for decades.

Q: What made the difference in your storm response?

A: The trickiest part of this storm was that it happened very quickly, and different impacts were felt across the affected regions.

Thankfully, we have a well-documented process in place to assess the damage. A senior team member activated the protocol as soon as the weather network alert went out and we immediately sent out teams to assess the damage and begin prioritizing vulnerable areas first (hospitals and seniors’ facilities) and then we work on populations with the largest amount of affected outages, mostly residential neighbourhoods.

Q: Did Oshawa have the same impact as other areas in Durham?

A: Oshawa had about 1/6 of its customer base out – roughly the same percentage of customers as other towns and cities. Thankfully, we have been actively updating our infrastructure to withstand severe storms, so our infrastructure was not as heavily damaged. As storms become more apparent, we are already preparing our grid for the future and consistently working to minimize outages with our Capital Rebuild Plan and Tree Trimming plans to keep areas safe.

Q: What are some things that residents can do to prepare for any of the dozen storms that are forecasted for this summer?

A: Preparation is the key to planning for emergencies and was key to our success for Oshawa Power and its residents to get back online quickly. Here are a few tips we use ourselves:

  • Resist the urge to move things. We understand that it can be jarring to see your property damaged after a storm, and the first instinct is to move trees off wires and cars. It’s dangerous. Leave it to the experts – call us. We work with tree contractors to move fallen trees.
  • Prepare for the stormy season. With climate change, meteorological predictions for storms are increasing. As a team, we all subscribe to weather network alerts – it’s fast and is a trigger to activate our storm response teams. It’s also important for everyone to have an emergency preparedness plan – visit our emergency preparedness site for ideas to develop your own plan and preparedness kit.
  • Trust that we are working as fast as we can. We know it never feels fast enough, but trust in the fact that the Oshawa Power teams are working as fast as they can, in a safe manner. Weather events such as this recent storm require multiple stakeholder collaborations including, municipalities, contractors for tree trimming and relief support, first responders and our own small number of crew members. During these events, our crews are working long and grueling 16-hour shifts in difficult conditions.