Weekend storm causes worst outage in Hydro’s history

Hydro crews from around the province – including Campbell River – have been helping the Lower Mainland recover from storm

Hydro crews from around the province – including Campbell River – have been helping the Lower Mainland recover from the largest power outage ever recorded in BC Hydro’s history.

Ted Olynyk, spokesperson for BC Hydro, said two Hydro workers from Campbell River assisted with assessing the damage and with some repair work wreaked on the south coast by last Saturday’s rain and wind storm.

“Usually they send the crews to us,” Olynyk said. “It was nice to help them for a change. It was the least we could do.”

BC Hydro estimates 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 which is believed to be the single largest outage event in BC Hydro’s history.

Olynyk said that at the peak of Saturday’s storm, 135 customers in the Campbell River area lost power.

“The Campbell River area was basically spared the wrath of the storm,” Olynyk said.

But not everyone was as fortunate.

Much of the Lower Mainland and on the Island, the Victoria and Cowichan areas, felt the brunt of the storm which triggered 1,800 trouble calls related to the event. That’s compared to the 2,000 trouble calls BC Hydro crews typically respond to in the span of a month across the entire province.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, 3,500 Hydro customers, primarily in the Surrey and Coquitlam remained without power.

In addition to Campbell River, BC Hydro also called in personnel from Kamloops, Vernon, Prince George, Smithers, Terrace, Williams Lake, Fort St. John, 100 Mile House, Courtenay, Nanaimo, Victoria, Port Alberni, Duncan and Qualicum to assist with the outages. Restoration efforts, however, were made all the more difficult due to the continuing rain and wind. Hydro said saturated soil in certain areas has made it unsafe for crews to bring in heavy equipment for repairs.

By the numbers

  • Peak number of customers without power-400,000
  • Number of customers out after 24 hours-227,000
  • Number of customers out after 72 hours-4,900
  • Number of damaged circuits-25