Penelakut Island loses power and ferry service after storm knocks out dock


WATCH: The mammoth job of restoring power to tens of thousands continues for BC Hydro workers after last Thursday’s storm, but on Penelakut Island near Chemainus, residents are both in the dark and out of ferry service.  The dock was badly damaged in the storm so right now crews can’t even get over to start restoring service.

Heather Sylvester is sick with worry about what she has to do once she gets home to Penelakut Island.

“It’s actually very heartbreaking to go home and do this on Christmas Eve” said the Penelakut mother of three

On Monday, she was cleaning out the rotten meat in her grandparents’ freezers. The meat is now a health hazard since power was knocked out to this Gulf Island last Thursday.

“Can you imagine all the people with freezers and they can’t do nothing with it,” said Heather’s grandfather August Sylvester.

Heather and August are some of the 500 residents of Penelakut now scrambling to stay warm and put on brave faces on for their kids, as the island struggles for a fourth day in the dark

“It’s been very hard. It has,” said Amanda Barker as she held her five-month-old son.

They are also without BC Ferries service after the storm knocked out the island’s dock. Bolts were pulled right from the ramp by the massive waves.

“Just like taking a highway and ripping it out and nobody has that highway off the island,” said August.

BC Ferries expects it will be mid-January before the dock can be fixed.

“It’s been devastating to the people on Penelakut,” said Penelakut Band Manger Jim Chisholm.

“It’s going to be a brutal Christmas Eve for people in the dark and the cold.”

A water taxi is now shuttling people off Penelakut in small numbers and without cars.

On Boxing Day, BC Ferries plans to bring in heavy equipment to build a temporary landing dock in order to finally get BC Hydro crews onto the Island.

“We’re doing the best we can,” said Chisholm.

“So we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the (BC) Ferries and BC Hydro will get us back going here very quickly.”

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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