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Pender Island on virtual lockdown after windstorm brings down 50 trees, cuts power to whole community

Police say upwards of 50 trees have been toppled on Pender Island. .
Police say upwards of 50 trees have been toppled on Pender Island. . Credit: Melody Pender / Pender Island Forum

The powerful windstorm that swept through B.C. on Thursday has left the community of Pender Island on virtual lockdown.

Outer Gulf Islands RCMP spokesperson Const. Brent Shemilt said the storm has knocked upwards of 50 trees over across the island, blocking roads and knocking out power lines.

“Blocking multiple routes to get vehicles in and around the various parts of the island, people are stuck in their homes because of power lines across the driveways, a number of houses have been struck by trees,” he said.

WATCH: Global Exclusive: People trapped after violent windstorm takes out part of White Rock pier

Global Exclusive: People trapped after violent windstorm takes out part of White Rock pier
Global Exclusive: People trapped after violent windstorm takes out part of White Rock pier

While many residents are shut in, the damage has also left a number of people stranded away from their homes, including eight that have had to bunk down in the community hall.

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“There’s people that have been stuck in various places around the island,” said Shemlit.

READ MORE: More than 260,000 without power as windstorm hits B.C.’s South Coast

“A number of students at the local elementary school have been put up in billeting situations with other families they know, and yes, some families have been stuck at the community hall here too.”

WATCH: Windstorm forces ferry cancellations on busy travel day

Windstorm forces ferry cancellations on busy travel day
Windstorm forces ferry cancellations on busy travel day

Shemilt said Mounties are working with paramedics and firefighters, but there is little they can do until BC Hydro crews arrive on the island Friday.

“We have 3,100 outages on the island, which I assume is likely the whole island,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Tanya Fish.

“Unfortunately because ferries weren’t running today we weren’t able to get over there to work on any outages on the Gulf Islands… we do have crews scheduled to be on the first ferries in the morning.”

In the meantime, residents are being asked to stay in their homes, and to assume any downed power line could be live.

Shemlit said police are asking people not to come to Pender Island until BC Hydro crews have been able to clear the roads.

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“If people can stay away from Pender, it would be great. If you don’t need to come to Pender, please don’t,” he said.

“Whether or not you’ll even be able to get out of the ferry terminal is yet to be determined.”