A Surrey, B.C. family is venting their frustration after a recent windstorm left them without power for weeks.
The powerful winds on the night of Nov. 4 initially left more than 300,000 people without power, and you can still find signs of the storm — in the form of downed branches and trees — in many parts of the Lower Mainland.
That includes Ellice Daniel’s front yard, which remains unrecognizable due to piled debris. But unlike most other British Columbians, Daniel’s home remained without power Thursday morning, nearly two full weeks after the storm.
“We’ve been keeping warm by the fireplace,” she told Global News.
“We are camped out in the living room by the fireplace. Myself and my two daughters. They’re on a mattress on the floor.”
Daniel said the family has been caught in a bureaucratic maze ever since several trees growing on adjacent public land toppled onto their home and property the night of the storm.
“Saturday morning I woke up, my daughter said, ‘Mommy the trees fell on the house.’ I said, ‘Oh are you serious?’ And sure enough they had,” she explained.
“They fell onto the power lines. I wasn’t concerned because we had power. But when I called to report it, they were concerned. They blocked off the street, and said they were going to call (BC Hydro) to disconnect us.”
Crews from the public power corporation arrived and disconnected the home shortly afterward.
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A complex web of insurance claims, city permits and a frustrating back-and-forth with BC Hydro, she said, has prevented crews from turning it back on.
“To get the service mast replaced we had to get permits from the city to do the work, and then it has to be inspected, and then once it’s been expected we get a declaration,” she said.
That process took more than a week, and on Thursday BC Hydro told the Daniels they would get their power back some time in the next 11 days.
“We look forward to getting our power back on or before by Nov. 28,” she said.
As it turned out, things would move much more quickly than that.
Within hours of being contacted by Global News, BC Hydro revised the timeframe, saying instead that it expected to have the lights back on by Thursday evening.
A spokesperson for the company blamed the issue largely on miscommunication.
“There are a few contributing factors in this case. We were waiting on the declaration from an electrician. And in addition to that, we were waiting on the city permit that we just received this morning,” spokesperson Kevin Aquino told Global News.
On top of her frustration with the power company, Daniel said the whole situation could have been avoided if the city had removed the problem trees when she reported them years ago. The city, she said, only removed two of the trees she flagged.
“They did fall on my daughters’ window, where they sleep,” she said.
“Had the trees been any stronger, had the wind been any stronger, it could have been a different outcome.”
Despite that, the family says it’s looking forward to getting back to life as usual, with the lights and heat back on.