Andrea Rondeau column: Remembering the windstorm of 2018; how prepared are you for an emergency?

Andrea Rondeau column: Remembering the windstorm of 2018; how prepared are you for an emergency?

Last year on Dec. 20 the Cowichan Valley was walloped by the worst windstorm in memory in the region.

Last year on Dec. 20 the Cowichan Valley was walloped by the worst windstorm in memory in the region.

The storm brought down trees like bowling pins and power lines right along with them. It took days for work crews from BC Hydro to municipal to clear things up and get back to a semblance of normal.

I vividly remember the day of the windstorm. It was a Thursday, deadline day here at the paper for our Friday edition. It was late morning when the power quit. Here in Duncan the extent of the storm wasn’t immediately visible beyond that, as buildings outnumber trees, but sirens from the firehalls echoed eerily through the streets in a virtually constant warning, and traffic backed up at blacked out lights.

At first, it seemed like more of an annoyance than anything. It’s very inconvenient when the power goes out and you need to work on a computer. But as the hours stretched on and there was no sign that power was coming back on anytime soon, and more and more areas were left in the dark and more and more roads were shut down by fallen trees the severity of the storm started to become apparent. We did get that next edition out on Friday, but someone from another community, more fortunate in the power department, had to finish the last few pages for us.

I was the last one in the office, and as I headed home that afternoon the reality of the windstorm really hit home. I got home only because one lane into my community was still open, every other road was totally blocked. As I drove, branches fell around my vehicle and I prayed no trees would fall on me or in front of me, causing me to crash. When I pried my white knuckles from the steering wheel in my driveway, at long last, it was obvious my power was out, along with most of Cowichan.

I’m pretty well prepared for this eventuality. I can light the place with candles and battery lanterns, and I have plenty of food that can be eaten cold. The one thing I don’t have is a heat source without electricity. My home does not have a fireplace or woodstove, and so I put on as many layers as I could and hunkered down with a blanket, my cat, and my dying cell phone (I forgot the charger on my desk at work in the pitch black room).

Now, going without heat is entirely possible for a day or so, even though the wind blew in a cold front along with it and the temperature dipped below 0 C. But boy was it cold.

As I remembered the windstorm this week, it has prompted me to look around for an emergency indoor heater for the next time this happens. How prepared are you? (Knock on wood.)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Cowichan councillor Christopher Justice wants to see rare habitats protected in the municipality. (File photo)
North Cowichan wants rare ecosystems to be a priority in OCP

But some council members want public input into decision

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary is taking a pro-active approach and closing the thrift shop as a precautionary measure as of Saturday. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop closing again as a precautionary measure

Second closure this year will last at least six weeks due to the COVID situation

The Santa’s Workshop fundraiser being put on by Camosun students on Dec. 5, 2020, will benefit Providence Farm. (Submitted)
Camosun students harness spirit holiday season with Providence Farm fundraiser

The next event, coming up on Dec. 5, is a virtual “Day in Santa’s Workshop”

Colwood resident, Geoffrey Irwin, has been missing since Sep. 27. His vehicle was found in Vancouver on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Police search for former Caps player last seen in September

Geoff Irwin’s vehicle was found in Vancouver Nov. 25

Cowichan Tribes’ artist Darrell Thorne (left) and Phil Kent, chairman of the Island Corridor Foundation, hold Thorne’s first-place winning design in the ICF’s First Nations artist competition. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes’ Darrell Thorne wins ICF art competition

Artists designed perspectives on passenger trains of the future

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Most Read