Chemainus Road facing south before the Chemainus river bridge to Crofton and Westholme with a tree down during the storm. (Photo by Robin Crouch)

BC Hydro crews deserving of praise

Restoring power a mammoth job after massive wind storm

Some people just love to complain.

It’s hard to find any degree of fault with BC Hydro over its plan of attack to restore service to customers following the massive wind storm Dec. 20 that left people around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands without power for several days in some cases.

This was a storm unlike any other to ever hit such a wide area of the region. It was a mammoth job just to begin getting everyone back on the grid. Penelakut Island and Thetis Island were the last from this area to receive complete restoration a couple of days after Christmas.

Despite the magnitude of the outage, BC Hydro received plenty of criticism that really is unwarranted when you look at the big picture.

More than 700,000 customers had their service restored by Dec. 26, just six days after the storm hit. The remaining 6,500 were in line to be operational again by Dec. 31.

BC Hydro had nearly 120 crews working on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands at one point. Some had trouble getting here sooner because of BC Ferries cancellations due to high winds.

Many of the southern Gulf Islands were the hardest hit areas. The storm damaged hundreds of power lines, poles, cross-arms and transformers and left roads completely covered by trees and vegetation.

“In the southern Gulf Islands, in many areas infrastructure needs to be rebuilt or replaced,” noted Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “We’re using barges and water taxis to help move materials and more crews to the hardest hit areas.”

The damage in Bamfield was some of the most severe on the Island and portions of the distribution system had to be rebuilt. With all that in mind, BC Hydro crews really did work miracles.

Sure, they’re well paid for what they do in these circumstances. But they also had to leave their own families for long periods at Christmastime and worked extensively in poor weather conditions.

That’s a sacrifice deserving of some praise. We all surely found out just how much our power is an essential service.

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