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After the storm: Central Saanich rallied to help hundreds of stranded people

A roundup of the storm aftermath around Greater Victoria

Central Saanich

Crews were still assessing infrastructure around Central Saanich Tuesday in the aftermath of the torrential rain, but district staff were happy to report there was nothing wrong with community spirit.

Members of the Brentwood Bay Search and Rescue team and the district’s emergency program spent a long night Monday walking Verdier Avenue and West Saanich Road passing out blankets and bottled water to those waiting in their vehicles for the Brentwood Bay ferry.

With the Malahat closed, B.C. Ferries worked through the night to handle traffic destined for Mill Bay and beyond.

Central Saanich staff estimated there were 236 vehicles and 400 people stranded in Central Saanich, and the waiting line for the ferry extended the length of Verdier Avenue and onto West Saanich Road.

The community opened the Brentwood Bay Community Hall as a warming and comfort room for those waiting in line, making available washrooms and comfort kits, including blankets, hygiene products and diapers.

Lisa Banfield, emergency program specialist with Central Saanich Fire, said pizza and hamburgers were delivered by residents while members of the Tsartlip First Nation were in safety vests walking individuals to the warming centre from their vehicles. “It was wonderful to see our community join together to provide comfort, support and conversation to individuals who were stuck while waiting for the ferry,” she said.

Sidney

The Town of Sidney considers itself lucky to have got by with little damage from the storm.

“It appears that Sidney fared relatively well,” said chief administrative officer Randy Humble. “Most issues related to flood damage can likely be resolved using our existing operational budget.”

Humble noted high water levels damaged one of the bridges in Reay Creek Park, meaning a section of the trail will remain closed until repairs are made. A timeline and cost for that has not yet been determined.

“The Reay Creek Dam was upgraded in the fall of 2020 and it appears to have performed as designed,” said Humble.

Sidney residents were asked on Monday to reduce domestic water use “while the pumps worked overtime” to deal with the rain, but that was all back to normal on Tuesday.

Oak Bay

Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch said the municipality got off lightly compared with some other areas. There was water pooling on roads and houses with some flooding, and city crews were out all day Monday and overnight with pumps and sandbags to address issues as they arose.

“Bowker Creek was absolutely filled to the brim, a little bit of spillage, so it was absolutely at the max capacity of pretty much everything,” Murdoch said. Water was still flowing “at an incredible pace” from storm outflows Tuesday, but things were mostly back to normal in Oak Bay, he said.

Victoria

The City of Victoria reported no major damage to infrastructure or parks that would require costly cleanup or repair, said spokesman Bill Eisenhauer.

All of the city’s sports fields, other than a turf field in Topaz Park, remain closed, he said. Staff will reassess fields Wednesday morning to see if they have dried out.

The skate park in Vic West remains closed and staff hope to open it soon. The skate bowls collected about a foot of water during the storm and have mostly drained naturally, Eisenhauer said.

Goodacre Lake in Beacon Hill Park overflowed its banks Monday, but receded to more normal levels on Tuesday, he said.

Nanaimo

Nanaimo saw some minor flooding but was largely spared significant damage, despite about 150 millimetres of rain falling between Friday and Monday, said John Elliot, the city’s director of public works. It will take about a week to clean up debris and leaves and to fortify areas where water enters and exits pipes.

Sooke

In Sooke, the post-storm cleanup is expected to continue throughout the week as the municipality deals with residual flooding and downed trees.

Sooke Potholes and the Sunriver Nature Trail were both closed when the Sooke River breached its banks. Both reopened Tuesday afternoon.

Power issues affected about 900 residents. Only a handful of homes were without power by noon on Tuesday.

Metchosin

No serious damage was reported in Metchosin, though sandbagging and other flooding-related efforts kept firefighters and municipal workers busy. Mayor John Ranns was still without electricity Tuesday after a power pole snapped in two and lines came down in his driveway. “I think I had more damage than anybody else,” he said.

Highlands

The District of Highlands reported all roads open by Tuesday afternoon but said some will need repairs.

— With files from Andrew Duffy, Jeff Bell, Roxanne Egan-Elliott