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Some parts of Vancouver Island could be without power for another night: B.C. Hydro

Man, 76, escapes as trees smash into home in Nanaimo, ferry sailings delayed, radio station cut off as a result of storm

B.C. Hydro brought Lower Mainland crews to Vancouver Island on Thursday to help restore power to about 17,000 homes and businesses.

But the utility said some Island customers might be without power for another night and potentially longer in some cases as crews worked “around the clock.”

Wednesday’s windstorm brought down trees that knocked out power, delayed ferries, and caused detours and delays on roads across the Island. At the storm’s peak, more than 167,000 customers on the Island, Lower Mainland, the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast lost power.

The remaining Island outages ran from Qualicum Beach and into Greater Victoria. There were also 6,000 customers across the Southern Gulf Islands without power.

In the Cowichan Valley, crews working to restore power in Chemainus, Ladysmith, Cowichan Bay and Cobble Hill.

In Nanaimo, one of the hardest hit areas, hundreds remained without power on Thursday.

Cleanups to clear roadways continued in Nanaimo and Victoria, and transit services were warning of delays caused by detours.

Trees smash Nanaimo home

On Wednesday, a 76-year-old Nanaimo man ­narrowly escaped injury after high winds brought down two large trees that crushed the roof of his home on the shores of Cathers Lake on the eastern edge of the city.

RCMP said the man was in the living room of the home when the 50-foot-tall conifers crashed into the roof over a bedroom area just a few feet away.

“There was significant ­damage to the home and the man was checked medically and deemed to be OK,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP.

Neighbours reported ­damage to their sheds and ­vehicles from fallen trees as Wednesday’s windstorm caused havoc up and down the Island.

Cruise ship cancels visit, Nanaimo parks closed

The scheduled arrival of a cruise ship at Ogden Point Wednesday was cancelled after the captain of the Norwegian Sun told the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority it was not safe to dock. Two other ships scheduled for arrival Thursday saw their stops cancelled due to “itinerary changes.”

The City of Nanaimo took the extraordinary step of ­closing all city parks just after noon on Wednesday due to high winds. The city reported several downed trees on city streets and in parks, and warned residents to stay away from treed areas.

RCMP said road closures were in effect as city and hydro crews worked to clear downed power lines, trees and other debris.

Nanaimo’s Aquatic Centre was also closed after losing power, while detours due to fallen trees were causing delays throughout the city.

Victoria radio station 100.3 The Q went off the air after its transmitter lost power, but power was restored a few hours later.

About 100 power outages reported

Just over 55,000 homes and businesses were left without power Wednesday as gusting winds uprooted trees, tore off branches and hurled them into powerlines, causing about 100 outages.

B.C. Hydro said the utility was working with power-line and vegetation crews as well as contractors, but the severity and length of the storm means not everyone will get their power restored until conditions improve. “There is still some life to the storm and we do expect more outages as the day progresses,” spokesman Ted Olynyk said Wednesday afternoon.

The storm was expected to pack a powerful punch into the e­vening hours and then ease off Thursday.

B.C. Hydro said all available crews will be working through the night to restore power, but expected small pockets of ­customers on the Gulf Islands and Duncan to be without power overnight.

On the South Island, more than 24,000 customers were without power by the afternoon, including on the West Shore, Saanich and the Peninsula, as well as Duncan/North Cowichan, Salt Spring Island, Pender Island and Saturna Island.

About 31,000 customers were affected on the North Island and major outages were reported in the Comox Valley, Ladysmith and Nanaimo areas, according to B.C. Hydro.

B.C. Ferries cancelled the 10:50 a.m. and 11:25 a.m. sailings between Crofton and Salt Spring Island because of the high winds and rough sea conditions. A sailing from Pender Island to Swartz Bay was also cancelled after the Queen of Cumberland had difficulty docking.

B.C. Ferries saw several delays on its Southern Gulf Island routes due to problems associated with power outages.

North Saanich Fire closed off parts of McTavish Road after falling trees took down power lines, resulting in the loss of power to 1,500 customers.

Environment Canada had issued wind warnings for Greater Victoria and east, west and north Vancouver Island, blaming an “unseasonably strong” low-pressure system bringing sustained 70 km/h winds with gusts up to 90 km/h through the day and into the overnight hours. Parts of the North Island are expected to see winds up to 110 km/h. 

Island residents were warned to watch for falling tree branches, adjust driving habits and secure loose objects like garbage cans and lawn furniture.

Fallen trees close roads, highways

The northbound lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway between the Colwood exit and 6 Mile Road overpass were closed late in the afternoon when a tree fell into the roadway, causing delays in rush-hour traffic.

The intersection at Veterans Memorial Parkway and Cairndale Road was closed in the afternoon due to a downed tree on a Hydro line blocking the road.

A tree fell on the southbound lanes of the Pat Bay Highway at Elk Lake Wednesday morning, causing traffic delays as crews worked to remove the debris. B.C. Transit advised customers on the Route 72 bus to expect delays.

A tree fell onto Craigflower Road near Banfield Park in Vic West, reducing traffic to a single lane for a brief period as city crews did a cleanup.

dkloster@timescolonist.com