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‘A dire situation’: Vancouver Island towns on Day 5 without power after winter storm

Downed trees outside of Woss, near Tahsis on Vancouver Island. BC Hydro

Residents of two remote communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island say they’re running out of food and fuel, after power was knocked out days ago in a winter storm.

BC Hydro crews have been working to restore electricity to the communities of Tahsis and Zeballos, and says major repairs could be completed by Sunday.

Sean McInroy, who lives in Tahsis, said the town has been without power since Tuesday.

Read more: More snow possible for Metro Vancouver, Sea to Sky on Saturday

“We’re in a dire situation. The town’s out of fuel now, we’ve got no propane, there’s no camp stove fuel, no candles left, no milk, no eggs,” he told Global News on Friday.

McInroy said many in the community are seniors, and that a number of residents don’t have generators or camp stoves to heat their homes or make warm food or drinks.

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“It’s a bit of a pickle to be in, for sure, especially those that aren’t as prepared as us,” he said.

“But even us, we’ve incurred quite a cost. We’ve probably spent more on gasoline, camp-stove fuel, butane and propane than we would on an entire year of hydro just to try and heat the house.”

Click to play video: 'Fraser Valley hit once again by winter storm' Fraser Valley hit once again by winter storm
Fraser Valley hit once again by winter storm – Jan 7, 2022

The only road in and out of the community is too dangerous to travel due to ice, snow and steep grades, he added.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Friday evening, BC Hydro president and CEO Chris O’Reily thanked residents for their patience and said crews were facing a “particular challenge” in restoring power to Tahsis and Zeballos.

“Several major structures were damaged on this line — because of its remote location, helicopter support is needed to complete repairs, and our crews have been at the mercy of weather windows to fly safely, all while dealing with snow shoulder-deep in some areas,” he said.

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“At this point, we’re hoping major repairs to the line will be complete Sunday. Once repairs are complete, we can begin to re-energize the line, but additional work may be needed to fully restore power.”

Read more: Powerful winds bring Metro Vancouver flooding, park closures and ferry cancellations

The Strathcona Regional District opened an emergency operations centre on Wednesday to coordinate the provision of essential goods and life-safety services, and has established warming centres in Tahsis, Zeballos and the Nuchatlaht First Nation.

In a Saturday update, it said 11 people were sleeping at a warming centre in Tahsis with cots, blankets, food, wireless internet and cellphone charging, and that it had procured enough food to last into “early next week.”

The district said Saturday that crews had also delivered 1,000 litres of diesel fuel, and that emergency medical transport was being handled by the Canadian Coast Guard in situations where ambulances can’t make the trip.

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