A tornado in Gatineau, Quebec, after a storm, is seen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Sept. 21, 2018. Reuters/ Lynne Lessard

Around 70,000 customers were still without power in Canada’s Ottawa and Gatineau on Sunday, in the aftermath of significant damages left behind by two tornadoes that tore through the region last week.

Three of Canada’s major electricity distribution companies — Hydro Ottawa, Hydro One and Hydro-Québec — kept their customers updated through regular social media updates on the power outages. According to their last updates on Sunday, 33,000 Hydro Ottawa, 26,000 Hydro One and 11,000 Hydro-Québec customers remained without power.

While emergency crews worked diligently over the weekend to restore power to most of the natural disaster-affected areas, bringing down the number of outages from 300,000 to 70,000, they were unable to completely do so due to one major hurdle — the damaging of a major power substation near Merivale and Hunt Club roads, which was a transmission hub where Canada’s Hydro One’s electricity fed into Hydro Ottawa’s systems.

“We’re fairly certain, though we can’t confirm through photos or videos that the tornado did touch down (on the Merivale station),” Hydro One’s Jay Armitage said, local newspaper Ottawa Citizen reported. “It ripped the roof off of two buildings and the roof slammed into our infrastructure, the insulators, the wires.”

The Merivale station normally handled about 1,000 megawatts of electricity on an average day and half of it took to power Ottawa. After Friday’s storms, the station became incapable of functioning at all.

Joseph Muglia, Hydro Ottawa’s director of distribution operations, said they were being forced to consider alternatives as the damage incurred to the Merivale station could take up to weeks to get fixed.

“The problem is that the storm was so quick and so hard, it created so much havoc over the surface area,” Muglia said. “First we have to assess the damage, before we can start fixing it… and then the first thing is to restore power to as many people, safely and efficiently, as quickly as we can. We have to co-ordinate what can get up running first.”

Echoing his sentiments, Armitage added: “What the team has had to do is figure out a plan that primarily includes bypassing Merivale. So rerouting power through the different transmission stations to get power to the Hydro Ottawa substations through a different path.”

Meanwhile, the Trudeau administration asked all governmental employees on Ottawa to refrain from going to work Monday, Global News reported.

“To assist with recovery efforts, the Government of Canada has been asked to minimize commuting as well as demand on the electrical grid,” a statement read. “As a result, Government of Canada employees in the National Capital Region have been asked to stay home and work from home, if possible.”

Due to excessive damages and power outages wrought from the tornadoes, schools under the Ottawa Catholic School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board announced they would remain closed Monday.

The announcements came as the city officials in Ottawa asked people to avoid unnecessary travel Monday, especially as 400 traffic lights were not working in the city, thus hindering the movement of traffic.

Hydro Ottawa also reminded people to turn off their electronic devices and unplug non-essential appliances in order to conserve energy and prevent power surges when electricity is wholly restored.

“Please remember to conserve energy at this time by unplugging or turning off unnecessary devices/electronics to prevent new issues from impacting the power grid. We thank everyone for their understanding,” the electricity provider tweeted.

The first twister touched down in Kinburn just before 5 p.m. EDT Friday and tracked east north east, before moving across the Ottawa River and through Gatineau Park with wind-speed of between 240 and 250 km per hour. An hour and a half later, a second twister touched down near Highway 416, moved eastward across Arlington Wood, Craig Henry. The second tornado, with wind speeds of 220 to 230 km per hour, was the one which damaged the Merivale power station.