‘Risking our lives’: Crews face dangerous storm damage in Cowichan Valley

'Risking our lives': Crews face dangerous storm damage in Cowichan Valley

Falling branches and trees knocked out power lines to thousands of people on Vancouver Island Tuesday.

As BC Hydro crews worked to restore power, flagger Michelle Sideen pleaded for people to give them space.

“We’re definitely risking our lives out here,” said Sideen, a traffic control worker at the scene of a large power outage near Cobble Hill.

“I’m seeing a mess. Unplowed roads, heavy snow, breaking branches, lines falling,” said the Duncan resident.

“Yeah, South Coast got really hit hard by this last storm event, particularly Sechelt, Southern Gulf Islands, Saanich. Those were the areas hardest hit. At the peak, we had about 30,000 customers out. We’re down to about 12,000 now,” BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk said Tuesday afternoon.

READ ALSO: Thousands of South Island homes lose power in overnight snowstorm: BC Hydro

The storm began burying the Cowichan Valley late Monday afternoon, and the snow accumulated all night, cancelling all schools in School District 79 and suspending Cowichan Transit service the next day. That left many standing at stops, unaware no bus was coming.

“We’re stranded for our ride to Chemainus now,” said Dora Louie as she waited with her two daughters at a Duncan bus stop.

Transit resumed Tuesday afternoon to help those left stranded as the work of digging out the heavy wet snow progressed.

Meanwhile, Kim Anderton and his niece Grace helped clear an elderly neighbour’s driveway.

“I mean, if he were to slip and fall, it’s endgame, right? And for those people who just can’t get out and about in general. So just being kind, neighbourly people, that’s how we should all be,” said Anderton, a North Cowichan resident.

“Oh, he’s a really good neighbour, really excellent, always helps me,” said Surfeit Baines, whose driveway was cleared by Anderton and his niece.

As snow shovels across the Cowichan Valley are being put away, BC Hydro crews say they expect to continue working through the night to restore the outages on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands.

However, crews say the amount of damage caused by snow could leave some pockets without power into Wednesday.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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