December 22, 2018 4:08 pm
Updated: December 23, 2018 1:42 pm

3 days after storm, BC Hydro warns of prolonged power outages

WATCH: Day two of the cleanup after Thursday's windstorm

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Two days after a powerful Pacific storm slammed into the south coast, wreaking havoc from Vancouver Island to the Fraser Valley, tens of thousands of people remain without power.

And BC Hydro says in some areas, that outage could take days to resolve.

BC Hydro crews have been working around the clock, and the Crown corporation said it had restored power to more than 530,000 customers since the storm.

WATCH: Second windstorm this week delays holiday travel

On Saturday evening, about 44,000 people in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands remained without power. You can see the current status of outages here.

READ MORE: Power restored to Nanaimo water treatment plant, city still urges conservation


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In a statement issued Saturday, BC Hydro said it had called in crews from around B.C. and had more than 800 personnel in the field trying to clear downed trees and repair power lines felled in what it called “one of the most severe windstorms it has experienced in 20 years.”

“Restoring remaining customers continues to be a challenge due to the extent of the damage,” said the company in a statement.

“Hundreds of individual outages remain that crews have to attend to individually to make repairs, which includes restringing hundreds of spans of power lines, and replacing power poles and transformers.”

WATCH: Windstorm leaves White Rock’s iconic pier in need of major repairs

In Nanaimo, crews restored power to the city’s water treatment plant but continue to try and diagnose mechanical faults in the facility and were asking residents to continue to conserve water.

The bad weather facing parts of the region was not over on Saturday, either.

Environment Canada wind warnings remained in effect for Greater Victoria, east and west Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands.

High winds forced the cancellation of multiple sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay on Saturday, along with some sailings to Denman and Cortes islands.

B.C.s Gulf Islands and portions of Vancouver Island remain heavily affected by storm damage, with fallen trees blocking many roadways.

BC Hydro says there are so many downed trees in some of the hardest hit areas like Nanaimo, Duncan, Lake Cowichan and the Gulf Islands that crews can’t even get in to assess damage, and power could be out for several days.

According to DriveBC, 100 per cent of roads on Saturna and Mayne Island have downed lines on them, while 80 per cent of roads on Salt Spring and Galiano are in the same situation.

Gabriola, Pender and Thetis Island are also affected.

In the rural parts of Surrey and the Fraser Valley, BC Hydro says some customers could still be without power for 24 to 48 hours.

In Vancouver, 12th Avenue remained closed between Kingsway and Fraser Street, while crews worked to clear several large trees that fell on two houses and remove another that remained standing but was unstable.

 

READ MORE: Vancouver Island cleanup continues after intense windstorm sweeps across region

Crews with BNSF Railway said that their right of way through White Rock near the storm-damaged pier was scheduled to reopen at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The company said the rail line suffered extensive tidal erosion from the storm, and it had to dump multiple rail cars of rock to reinforce it.

WATCH: Careless drivers ignore dangers of downed power lines and other hazards

The City of White Rock also cut power for an area bounded by North Bluff Road and Roper Street from Johnston Road to Best Street on Saturday for “restoration emergency work.”

It said the outage could last until between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

READ MORE: ‘Mind-boggling, the stupidity’: Frustration as drivers ignore downed wires, storm closures

The city’s iconic pier remains badly damaged and could take months and millions of dollars to repair.

Residents are being asked to stay away from the area, which was hazardous and strewn with debris.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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