BC Hydro has crews assessing damage and making repairs as nearly 130,000 BC Hydro customers are without power on Vancouver Island.
“It’s a pretty significant event that has hit all of Vancouver Island essentially,” said Ted Olynyk, a manager of community relations with BC Hydro.
A release sent out by BC Hydro says damage to their equipment is being caused by fallen branches and trees. Strong winds have made damage assessment and repairs difficult but crews are repairing power lines, poles and transformers where it is safe.
“All available resources will work throughout the day and into the evening to safely restore power,” the release noted.
Nearly 28,000 BC Hydro customers in the Greater Victoria area are without power, according to BC Hydro’s online outage map.
The map shows customers in Sidney, North Saanich, Central Saanich, Saanich, Langford, View Royal, Colwood, Metchosin and the Highlands are affected. It says crews have been assigned to the areas and that the outages are under investigation.
Power was lost in the various areas starting around 11:10 a.m.
Another 4,000 hydro customers in Sooke have been without power due to a tree down across some wires. BC Hydro does not have an expected time for the power to be restored.
— BC Transit (@BCTransit) December 20, 2018
According to the BC Hydro website, about 67,430 customers on South Vancouver Island are affected by outages as of 2:25 p.m. Thursday.
Highway management group Mainroad South Island Contracting is also warning of multiple trees down on south Island highways.
A tree down on Highway 17 southbound at Keating Cross Road, created single-lane traffic and was cleared at approximately 3 p.m. Multiple trees are down on Highway 14 causing road closures at Tugwell Bridge and Parkinson Creek. Mainroad also says multiple trees are down on other side roads in Duncan, Mill Bay, East Sooke and the Gulf Islands.
“Mainroad crews are working at full strength with BC Hydro and other agencies to reopen roads as soon as possible,” the release said. “Motorists, please exercise caution while driving and use the four-way stop procedure at intersections that have lost their power.”
The outages come as strong winds up to 100 kilometres per hour and heavy rains hit Vancouver Island on Thursday.
“This is very similar to the storm we had in 2006 with the amount of damage we’re looking at,” Olynyk said. “It’s a pretty extreme wind event causing some very significant damage to our equipment across Vancouver Island.”
Olynyk said BC Hydro is reminding customers to call 911 if they see a downed line and to stay 10 metres away from it.