Thursday , July 29 2021

Thousands facing night without power as the wind batters B.C.'s South Coast

Thousands of residents were facing Saturday night without power after a powerful windstorm blew through B.C.'s South Coast Friday and Saturday.

British Columbia's power utility has worked to restore power after about 70,000 customers were cut by damage due to high winds, some up to 90 kilometers an hour.

"We want to thank you for your patience as our crews work throughout the day and into the evening," said BC Hydro spokesperson Kevin Aquino.

As of 9 p.m. PT Saturday, there were close to 16,000 customers without power in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast. More than 11,000 customers were without power on southern Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro is asking residents to make sure they have emergency supplies.

Aquino said the hardest-hit areas include Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, Victoria and the southern Gulf Islands.

Retired farmer Jom Gardiner struggled to get his generator to work on Saturday in Langley as he coped with the strong winds that knocked out his power. but he was taking the weather in a step.

"We're accustomed to outages," he said. "This happens once in a while. We have flashlights and stuff like that."

The storm caused numerous BC Ferries sailing cancellations between Horseshoe Bay, northwest of Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast, and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

A BC Ferries vessel holds a dock at Horseshoe Bay on Saturday due to high winds. (Jon Hernandez / CBC)

Barge toppled

The wind was so strong that a barge partially sank at Sewell's Marina in Horseshoe Bay on Saturday morning.

Tess Baker said she was waiting for the ferry when she saw a "big cement barge carrying speed boats and zodiacs" tip over and sink.

Baker said it appeared that about nine boats were also swept up to the beach.

"It's more windy than I've ever seen it here in the harbor."

And Sewell's Marina barge capsized due to high winds causing several rental boats, used oil and fuel drums to go into the water. 0:29

The Canadian Coast Guard said in an email that the barge capsized as a result of the storm. It said several several boats, used oil and fuel drums ended up in the water.

The agency said there is no visible sign of pollution, but the marina staff can smell fuel.

If there is a noticeable sign of pollution, the marina along with nearby BC Ferries has an available pollution-response equipment.

The Coast Guard said it was also ready to assist if needed.

A tree rests on a power line in Deep Cove, B.C., after powerful winds blew through Metro Vancouver on Friday and Saturday. (Mike KilleenéCBC)

Meanwhile Aquino said hydro crews have been repairing damaged power lines, power poles and transformers.

Downed power lines should always be assumed to be live and are considered emergency situation. If you come across a 10-meter-long walk away and call 911.

Wind and snow alerts are in effect for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, eastern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Winds are expected to reach up to 90 kilometers per hour.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada says snow is possible across the South Coast, with up to 10 centimeters in places like Southern Vancouver Island.

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