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December storm on the South Coast 'most damaging' in BC Hydro history: report

Last Updated Jan 2, 2019 at 9:41 am PDT

Summary

New report from BC Hydro says the Dec. 20 windstorm across the South Coast was the 'most damaging' storm in its history

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – At its peak, it knocked out power to more than three-quarters-of-a-million customers.

Now, almost exactly three weeks later, BC Hydro says that wind storm that pummeled the South Coast was the worst in its history.

A new report out by the utility suggest the December storm’s impacts were larger than the windstorm that hit in August of 2015, BC Hydro adds, which affected both the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. It was also more impactful than the windstorm of 2006 that swept across Vancouver Island, and “devastated Stanley Park.”

This most recent even hit B.C. on December 20th. It left more than 400,000 customers without power on the Lower Mainland, and nearly 350,000 BC Hydro customers without electricity across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

“It also required the biggest mobilization of people, equipment, and materials in BC Hydro’s history to respond to it,” Mora Scott with the utility said.

The storm was the most damaging for a couple of reasons, she explained.

“One it impacted more customers than we’ve ever seen before,” she told NEWS 1130. “And it was the most damaging in terms of electrical infrastructure. More than 3,000 pieces of equipment were damaged during this storm that needed to be replaced.”

The weather system brought with it winds with speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour in some areas. It toppled trees and branches, many of which came crashing down onto electrical equipment.

Scott said about 1,900 spans of wire, 390 power poles, 700 cross arms, and about 230 transformers were damaged.

“We did have about 900 field workers working around the clock to make repairs and to rebuild parts of the system,” she added.

Power was restored to more than half a million customers in the first 24 hours, the utility says. Crews were also brought in from other parts of the province and even outside of B.C.

While crews have been called in from other areas in the past, Scott said “this was definitely the biggest mobilization of people, equipment, and material we’ve ever seen in our company’s history.”

-With files from Estefania Duran