Gulf Islands could be without power for several days following powerful storm

Gulf Islands could be without power for several days following powerful storm

As B.C.’s south coast digs out from the damage of one of the most powerful windstorms in decades, residents of the Gulf Islands could find themselves in the dark for several days.

The islands were in the path of some of the strongest winds to hit the region, and have seen hundreds of trees knocked over.

Making matters worse, ferry cancellations on Thursday meant that BC Hydro crews couldn’t even make it to some islands until Friday morning to begin to assess the damage.

On Saturday, BC Hydro said that there were so many downed trees in some areas that crews still haven’t been able to complete assessments, and warned that “it will take several days to restore power to these areas.”

According to DriveBC, 100 per cent of roads on Saturna and Mayne Island have downed lines on them, while 80 per cent of roads on Salt Spring and Galiano are in the same situation.

Pender, Saturna, Mayne and Galiano remain completely in the dark.

Islands Trust Trustee for Mayne Island Jeanine Dodds told Global News that despite the damage, residents remain in high spirits.

“We’re islanders, so it would be nice to have power, but most of us are managing without it,” she said.

Downed trees and power lines on Saltspring Island.

She said while there are a number of road blockages, residents are opening the back roads on their properties to help people get where they need to go. Mayne has also opened its community hall for anyone in need.

“Anyone who needs an opportunity to recharge their cell phones, computers, get a hot cup of coffee and some food can go to the Mayne Island community centre for that,” she said.

She also praised BC Hydro for its efforts.

“Hydro is here, it’s a huge job for them to get all of the islands reconnected because we’re all interlinked on the same line,” she said.

But she said local businesses will likely be the hardest hit, with grocery stores and restaurants losing perishable products, and retail stores losing out on the last few shopping days before Christmas.

“Mayne Island Tru Value has opened its doors and is basically giving away its perishables at this point, because it basically has no choice at this point,” she said.

Outer Gulf Islands RCMP spokesperson Const. Brent Shemilt said the condition of the roads on the islands is improving quickly.

“The majority of the islands are getting better by the hour,” he said. “The big push now is people trying to get fuel and stuff for the generators.”

He said police have been checking in on the islands’ elderly population, and encouraged residents to do the same if they can.

“The big thing is just maybe check on your neighbours if you have somebody,” he said. “[And] be safe with whatever you’re choosing to heat your home with.”

Shemilt added that police on the islands have been impressed with the way the community has come together in what has been a trying time.

“We just want to say thanks to BC Hydro, all the people with generators, restaurants, everyone in the community that’s just really stepping up to help everyone out because it’s making a bad situation go really smooth, and it’s not going noticed.”

All the same, Dodds says she’s got her fingers crossed that power will be back for the holiday.

“The last word was maybe not until Monday,” she said. “We’re certainly hoping to have power for for Christmas.

“That’s going to be hard one if it’s not back by Monday.”

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