Crews and property owners alike are still cleaning up the aftermath of a powerful storm that pounded the region with unwavering winds and rain for much of Tuesday, causing numerous road closures and power outages.
Sooke Road was closed in both directions for most of the day from roughly Kangaroo Road in Metchosin to Happy Valley Road in Langford, according to DriveBC, due to downed hydro lines and washout.
While some traffic was able to detour down Kangaroo Road and through Metchosin, a downed tree on Rocky Point Road near Liberty Drive caused massive power outages and road closures for the area. Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop said the tree actually collapsed on a truck but the vehicle was able to break free and had left the scene by the time first responders arrived.
The road was still closed on Wednesday as of the Gazette’s press deadline, with crews expecting it to reopen that evening.
“It’s a real concern,” Dunlop said, adding that emergency crews have no access to the closed area and have to take extensive detours around in the event of a call.
“There’s no power, there’s no cell coverage, they have no way to communicate … It’s a scary situation,” she said of the affected area.
Dunlop spent Tuesday night at the fire hall to be able to respond to emergency calls faster.
Munns Road was also closed in both directions for much of the workday due to a tree coming down across power, telephone and cable lines. Highlands Fire Chief Dean Ford said his firefighters arrived on scene just after 7 a.m. and found a tree had knocked the lines off at least three poles and was left suspended seven or so feet above the road with just the cable line holding it up.
He said this resulted in power outages from the 4000 to the 5900 block of Munns Rd. The road reopened to traffic at around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
A tree down on Veteran’s Memorial Parkway between Sooke and Cairndale roads in Colwood had crews reacting quickly. Crews used a backhoe to remove the section of tree blocking the roadway, allowing traffic to flow through using alternating lanes while the debris was cleared away.
Besides road closures, downed power lines left a large number of B.C. Hydro customers without electricity through the day, with some outages lasting into Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Hydro reported more than 90,000 customers were without power on Vancouver Island and in the Fraser Valley at the height of the storm, between 3 and 4 p.m. On the Lower Mainland, more than 110,000 customers were without power at the height of outages between 5 and 6 p.m. Crews were brought in from the Interior to help restore outages.
Hundreds of West Shore customers were still without power Wednesday, with the majority of outages being reported in Metchosin. As of the Gazette press deadline, BC Hydro was predicting some of those outages would last well into Wednesday night.
A number of schools in the Sooke School District were also affected by outages Tuesday. Belmont, Dunsmuir, Happy Valley, Hans Helgesen and John Stubbs schools experienced outages, as did a number of schools in Sooke.
SD62 spokesperson Lindsay Vogan said parents who could were encouraged to pick up their child early. Staff at the affected schools called parents directly to notify them of the power outages and a school-wide email was sent out.
But Vogan stressed that schools do not “close” in an event like Tuesday. Once classes are cancelled, students, with the exception of high school, are not permitted to walk home without a parent or guardian in extreme weather, so if parents are unable to pick up their children right away, staff and teachers remain at the school until every child has found a safe way home.
Buses also ran normally at the end of the school day to pick up any students still remaining at schools. Power was restored to all schools and classes ran normally Wednesday morning.