Waves breaking on the shore near Campbell River on Tuesday. Environment Canada warned of strong gales reaching 80 km/h, and choppy seas resulted in cancelled ferries. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Cancelled ferries kept Hydro crew from reaching Cortes during blackout

Fallen tree blamed for outage that affected nearly 500 customers amid powerful winds

A fallen tree knocked out electricity for nearly 500 customers on Cortes Island amid heavy winds on Monday night, while choppy seas led to cancelled ferries, preventing workers from restoring power until late on Tuesday evening.

The blackout began just before midnight on Monday, and a maintenance crew was dispatched at around 5:30 a.m. the next day, said Ted Olynyk, a spokesperson for BC Hydro.

They arrived on Quadra Island in the morning, but were stuck there after BC Ferries cancelled multiple sailings to Cortes, he said. The crew finally arrived at about 4:30 p.m.

The number of customers affected was initially estimated at around 300 on BC Hydro’s website. But that number turned out to be 490, Olynyk said. The blackout continued until about 8 p.m.

The cancelled sailings came amid stormy seas on Tuesday, as Environment Canada warned of strong gales reaching 80 km/h.

READ MORE: Man suffering heart attack not allowed to board Quadra Island ferry

READ MORE: B.C. ferry workers’ union fights for right to strike

Cancelled sailings included a 9 a.m. trip from Quadra to Campbell River, a 9:30 departure from Campbell River, and three round trips on the Quadra-Cortes route between 7:50 a.m. and 1:05 p.m., said Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs for BC Ferries.

She said the ferry company and power utility were in contact during Tuesday’s storm, and that ferries give priority to BC Hydro vehicles.

“We actually gave them a call yesterday to let them know about the cancellations we were having on the Quadra-Cortes run, just so their trucks weren’t just sitting there,” Marshall said.

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Screengrab from BC Hydro’s website on Tuesday shows the approximate outage area on Cortes Island.

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