Chemainus, other parts of North Cowichan, the neighbouring Gulf Islands, Saltair and Duncan were among the hardest hit areas by Wednesday’s wicked windstorm that battered the Island.
Hundreds of trees were blown down or fell onto power lines and thousands of residents were without power for an extended time, lasting into Thursday morning and beyond in some cases. BC Hydro crews were hard-pressed to gain access to some areas to restore power due to the considerable debris from trees.
It all began just after 10 a.m. when a tree fell across hydro lines in Chemainus on Oak Street across from the 49th Parallel Grocery. The Chemainus department was called out when a small fire ensued and firefighters also responded to other incidents around town.
Two people got trapped when hydro lines came down on their vehicle on Chemainus Road.
Numerous power outages followed throughout the afternoon and most businesses shut down for the day.
It was all very reminiscent of December 2018 for many Chemainus residents when a powerful storm knocked out power for more than three days and businesses remained closed.
The only difference this time is the winds were probably stronger, with gusts estimated at 90 kilometres per hour.
Many residents nervously watched the trees surrounding their properties as they bent and, in some cases, broke and fell to the ground.
“It was unbelievable actually,” said resident Craig Spence of the winds.
Carol Struck of Thunder’s Truck opened her food truck to serve coffee Thursday to those still without power.
There were especially a large number of trees that toppled onto the northern portion of Victoria Road and it was still closed Thursday morning until clearing could be completed.
Most Crofton residents who lost power had it restored by late Wednesday evening.
More than 13,600 customers were affected by power outages on the South Island.
BC Hydro said crews worked through the night Wednesday to restore power to more than 167,000 customers on the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast. The severe wind didn’t just bring down trees but also damaged BC Hydro infrastructure in many communities.
More crews and equipment were brought over from the Lower Mainland Thursday to help restore electricity service for nearly 17,000 customers still without power in Victoria, Nanaimo, Duncan and the Gulf Islands. It was anticipated some customers would be without power for another night and potentially longer in a few cases.
Considering the force of the winds, the Chemainus area escaped serious damages for the most part. One aluminum roof was partly uprooted from a building at the Paulcan Enterprises sawmill on Smiley Road.
Otherwise, residents were out in full force to clean up the debris in their own yards, as the winds subsided.