Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Kudos to hydro crews

It would have been enough work for any hydro crew just to deal with a few houses on one street

There’s a lot to be said for those Hydro workers who put in so much effort since the windstorm on Dec. 20 to restore power to hundreds of thousands who were left in the dark across many parts of the province.

They came in their hundreds from across the country, with some from as far away as New Brunswick, to work gruelling, long shifts right through the Christmas season to get the job done.

There was certainly nothing easy about the work these people took on.

I witnessed some of the incredible damage done in the Cowichan Valley, one of the hardest hit areas during the storm.

Many areas looked like a war zone, with large trees that had succumbed to the winds that were gusting as high as 100 kilometres an hour taking down power lines, snapping power poles like matchsticks and with some crashing right through sections of houses.

In many cases, the workers had to saw up the massive trees, which was no easy task in itself, to gain access to the downed power lines, put up new power poles and reattach buildings with electricity.

It would have been enough work for any hydro crew just to deal with a few houses on one street, but the approximately 800 workers that were assigned the task did this repeatedly on thousands of properties on the Island and Lower Mainland in just 11 days in cold and wet conditions to get the job done.

It was an unbelievable amount of hard work after one of the worst windstorms to hit the province in decades, and they should be commended for that alone.

But what also has to be considered is that the Hydro workers gave up their Christmases to help us.

Many of them, if not most, have families and young children of their own and they were likely looking forward to a nice, peaceful few weeks with them to celebrate the season.

It says a lot about them that they were ready to answer the call to action in a valiant effort to restore power to so many in as short a time as possible.

Of course, I’m sure they were adequately compensated for the outstanding jobs they did here, but there is no way to adequately replace the lost time they could have had with their families.

Residents of Saltspring Island, one of the last areas to finally have power restored after 11 days in the dark, did their best to say thank you to the Hydro workers.

Island residents Kathryn Anderson and Dan Olson, along with many other islanders, hosted an appreciation brunch on New Year’s Day for the Hydro workers, first responders and community members who worked tirelessly during the crisis.

In an interview, Anderson said that when the idea to host the brunch was posted on social media, “it just became a firestorm.”

She said that in less than a week, local businesses donated food and space for the gathering, and while most of the Hydro crews left Saltspring as power was restored, all who remained had been personally invited to the brunch, while the ceremony was also live-streamed so departed crews could also participate.

The brunch was one community’s way to extend well-earned thanks to these tireless workers, but I think the appreciation for them is heartfelt through the entire region.

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