Thousands of people living on B.C.’s South Coast could be without power for days after an intense windstorm hammered the region all day Thursday, possibly turning deadly on Vancouver Island.
Environment Canada said gusts hit up to 100 km/h across Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley. At one point, more than 330,000 people were without power.
As of early Friday morning, BC Hydro said 150,000 customers were still in the dark.
The utility called it « one of the most severe storms BC Hydro has experienced in years, » adding that it could be days before power is fully restored to everyone.
A tweet from the utility said hydro workers made progress on outages across the mainland, but the brunt of the damage was taken by Vancouver Island. Crews are being sent to the island on ferries Friday morning to get to the hardest-hit spots.
In many areas we still need to complete damage assessments to have a better understanding of the repairs needed and the restoration efforts. Crews will be working around the clock until we have everyone back on. <a href= »https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCStorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>#BCStorm</a>
One killed, another injured
The BC Coroners Service said a person was killed by a falling tree in the city of Duncan on southern Vancouver Island, though it is unclear if the tree fell because of the strong winds.
In Surrey, a worker was hurt when a tree went down near Pacific Academy school. They were taken to hospital and WorkSafeBC is investigating the incident.
The full moon is the only source of light on this South Surrey Street tonight. <a href= »https://twitter.com/hashtag/bcstorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>#bcstorm</a> <a href= »https://twitter.com/bchydro?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>@bchydro</a> <a href= »https://t.co/KH2d9H11fI »>pic.twitter.com/KH2d9H11fI</a>
104-year-old pier collapsed
In White Rock, about 50 kilometres from Vancouver, the city’s landmark pier was partly destroyed by powerful waves.
Video from the shoreline shows waves ripping out a large section of the 104-year-old structure, leaving a man trapped on the far end. He was later rescued by helicopter.
Nearly two dozen boats were also clobbered by the waves, crashing into each other along the pier. The entire beach promenade — a well-known tourist hotspot in the summer — was littered with debris tossed up by the ocean.
City officials said more details on clean-up and repair plans would be released Friday.
Rail line damaged
The waves in White Rock also cut rail service that runs along its shoreline.
Amtrak passenger service to Seattle has been cancelled, along with up to 17 freight trains that run along that route every day.
Burlington Northern railway owns and maintains the line. Gus Melonas, a company spokesman in Seattle, said crews worked overnight Thursday to stabilize the storm-damaged rail bed.
Melonas said there are problem areas all through to Bellingham, Wash.
Burlington Northern hopes to reopen the line Friday.
The storm also forced the closure of several public parks back in B.C., including Vancouver’s Stanley Park, out of concern for public safety.
Several public trails and viewpoints leading to the beach in South Surrey and White Rock were also shut down.