Winter storm: How to prepare for possible outages, flooding, burst pipes in days to come


With many on Vancouver Island still digging out from the last dump of snow, people are being told how to prepare for worse weather to come. More snow, freezing rain, and warming weather could all pose serious problems in the days ahead.

With all of the extra weight on already-stressed trees, BC Hydro is anticipating major power outages on Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley.

“We’ve already got some snow still in the trees and this extra moisture it’s a recipe for some damage to our system,” said spokesperson Ted Olynyk.

So people are being urged to take some important steps to make sure they’re not caught flat-footed in an emergency.

Make sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit with water, flashlight, batteries, and non-perishable food to last at least 72 hours. If you come across a downed power line you should keep 10 metres away, or about the length of a bus.

“You never know if a line could be re-energized as we try to bring it back onto the system remotely or the line never de-energized when it hit the ground or someone in the area has a generator and its not wired properly and it’s just feeding back into the system,” Olynyk said.

After the snow and ice will come warmer temperatures, creating significant flooding concerns.

The City of Nanaimo has put out a video showing people how to clear their storm drains from under the piles of snow to improve drainage.

“The temperature is looking to warm very quickly going into Christmas and then lots of rain next week. So flooding and drainage issues are definitely going to be a primary concern. Here at the public works yard we do have sandbags and sand available if that is an issue, please bring your own shovel,” said David Thompson, Manager of Roads and Traffic for the City of Nanaimo.

Another concern is that after the deep freeze of the past couple of days, frozen pipes will thaw and burst.

“If people have an issue they should know where their main water shut off is coming into the house so I’d be looking for that today and knowing where that is just in case you could shut all the water to the house off then obviously call your plumbing company,” said Wade Roberts, owner of Wade Roberts Plumbing.

People are also being urged to sand or salt walkways and sidewalks where possible before the snow and freezing rain come, keep off the roads unless absolutely necessary and to check on vulnerable neighbours.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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