Storm most power-disruptive in BC history
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
A fierce storm rocked the Greater Vancouver area during the weekend of August 28 to 31, causing power outages to almost 50 per cent of BC Hydro customers for some duration, as well as disruptions in cell phone and transit service. The storm was the most damaging to hit the area since December 2006. At its peak on August 29, winds reached speeds ranging from 80–100 kilometres per hour. Many of the power outages were caused by falling trees and power lines, particularly in the Maple Ridge and Coquitlam areas. Hundreds of trees and fences were uprooted by the storm.
At the storm’s peak, over 400,000 residents of the area were simultaneously without power. According to a press release by BC Hydro, they estimated that “710,000, or 50 per cent, of its 1.4 million customers on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland lost power due to Saturday’s windstorm.”
In addition to the vast power disruptions, a significant amount of debris caused by the upheaval led to additional damage. Notably, the tent-based area of the Surrey Night Market was completely destroyed and is now closed until next season. Most of the debris, particularly the largest and most dangerous pieces, was cleared by BC Hydro within 48 hours of the storm. However, full clearance is not likely to be in effect for a couple of weeks.
In their press release, the company stated: “Crews have managed to restore power to more than 705,000 customers over a span of 72 hours […] As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, about 3,500 BC Hydro customers, primarily in Surrey and Coquitlam remain without power. Some of these outages are new outages within the last 24 hours.” These outages were mostly caused by additional winds and rising water levels post-storm on September 1. On the night of September 2, BC Hydro’s twitter account confirmed that there were just over 100 customers without power remaining. The remaining service calls were often the most disruptive incidents, requiring individual site visits and extensive work.
Executive vice-president of BC Hydro Distribution and Customer Service Greg Reimer stated to CBC that the storm was the biggest disruption to customers since the company’s inception. “It’s been a real challenge for us—it is probably unprecedented in our history in terms of customers impacted.” For comparison, the December 2006 storm of similar size left 240,300 customers without power at its peak—almost half of the users affected by the weekend storm.