High winds knock out power to thousands

Wild winds, combined with periods of heavy rain, smashed into the Cowichan Valley Wednesday and Thursday

Wild winds, combined with periods of heavy rain, smashed into the Cowichan Valley Wednesday and Thursday, downing power lines and leaving thousands of residents without electricity.

In Duncan, trees across lines have thrown pocket areas out of power for several days but the worst hit came on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 10 with a wide swath of the Valley hit about 6:30 a.m.

A busy Ted Olynyk, BC Hydro’s communications officer, took time out at mid-morning to say, “Duncan got hit quite hard. Originally we had about 8,000 customers out but now we’re down to less than 2,000.”

Most of the larger outages occurred about 6:30 a.m. Thursday but many people had power back within three hours.

Karla Louwers, another Hydro spokesperson, said, “yes, we are definitely experiencing a lot of outages on Vancouver Island. They are weather-related; this time, it’s been the winds that have been the problem.”

The timing of the outages was, in a way, fortunate, because workers were just marshalling.

“There’s never a good time for an outage, of course, but the outages began at what could be considered the ideal time as regards crews being at work and being ready to respond,” Louwers said.

She was unable to predict when everyone would get power back, and added that, with high winds still predicted for later in the day, there could be more power failures on the way.

“It’s always hard to put an accurate estimate on situations like this, because they change so much.”

Louwers reminds drivers that big winds mean trees and branches can come down, bringing power lines with them.

“It’s a good reminder, when you see a downed line, to always assume that it’s energized and always stay at least 10 metres back and dial 9-1-1,” she said.

Along with big parts of Duncan, North Cowichan, and the central parts of the Valley, there were also outages in Youbou, Meade Creek and Lake Cowichan that left more than 1,000 people without power Thursday.