British Columbia

B.C. storm: 'Largest outage event' in BC Hydro history

Most British Columbians have their electricity back after the storm that knocked out power to almost three quarters of a million customers — but hundreds remain in the dark.

About 730 customers remain in the dark, but BC Hydro says they will have power by Tuesday evening

BC Hydro shared this photo on Twitter from a Surrey customer of a tree on power lines Tuesday, to show the "difficult situations crews are dealing with during restoration." (BC Hydro/Twitter)

Rain, wind and soggy ground mean hundreds of BC Hydro customers remain without power — days after Saturday's windstorm tore down trees and power lines throughout the region.

BC Hydro says 710,000 — half of its customers — lost power due to the storm, which it is calling "the single largest outage event" in the utility's history.

As of 8:55 p.m. PT Tuesday, 738 BC Hydro customers in the Metro Vancouver area, mainly in Surrey, remain without power as wind and rain continue to cause problems.

Hundreds of trees were uprooted during Saturday's windstorm, including this one that lifted a Vancouver sidewalk. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

BC Hydro has nearly 500 employees from around the province working in the Metro Vancouver area to restore power, responding to 1,800 incidents since Saturday — roughly the same amount they usually address in a month.

The utility aims to have most people's power restored by the dinner hour on Tuesday.

"It's been a real challenge for us — it is probably unprecedented in our history in terms of customers impacted," said Greg Reimer, executive vice president of transmission, distribution and customer service at the utility.

"Those folks still without power are in our minds every day … everybody that isn't on is a concern to us and we're working hard to do that."

The worst-hit areas were Surrey, Coquitlam and Abbotsford, while neighbourhoods in Burnaby, New Westminster, Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission and White Rock have also been without power for three days.

Soggy ground slowing work

Stormy weather has slowed progress for BC Hydro crews, Reimer said, making some sites difficult to access and causing new outages.

Monday night in Surrey, 2,000 customers who had their power restored lost it again when winds blew branches off a tree into a power pole, causing the electrical equipment to catch fire, he said.

In Coquitlam, high water levels have made it difficult to work on power lines near the Coquitlam River. In some locations, the ground is so muddy and saturated with water that heavy equipment can't get in, so crews have to use more time-consuming methods.

"Once you get down to the last few thousand restorations in any storm … it's always the hardest ones and the ones that take the most time."

The BC Hydro website, which is operational again after crashing during the storm, had estimated many of those customers would have electricity back by noon today.

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