By Dan Fumano, The Province
VANCOUVER — Tens of thousands of Lower Mainland residents were still in the dark Monday morning, after two nights without power following Saturday’s windstorm.
In total, more than 530,000 B.C. Hydro customers had been impacted by the storm that produced Hydro’s largest service disruption in almost a decade, but most were back on line by Sunday.
About 400 workers were helping with restoration efforts, including at least 100 called in from outside the Lower Mainland, arriving from Vancouver Island, northern B.C. and the Interior to provide support.
Ten additional crews were arriving from Vancouver Island on Monday, said B.C. Hydro spokeswoman Simi Heer.
The majority of the 46,000 Hydro customers still without power Monday morning were in Surrey and Langley, where 26,500 were still off line, Heer said.
As of Monday morning, there were 8,700 customers still affected in Coquitlam and Maple Ridge, 6,300 in Vancouver and Burnaby, 3,800 in Abbotsford and Mission, and another 1,100 on the North Shore, said Heer.
The utility’s website had been unavailable for much of the weekend, causing frustration for many Lower Mainland residents who checked bchydro.com for updates.
Monday morning, Heer said Hydro was not yet encouraging customers to visit bchydro.com for updates. Instead, residents were advised to check news websites, radio, TV, or B.C. Hydro’s social media accounts, or phone *49376 on cell, or 1-888-769-3766 from a landline.
Across the Lower Mainland, businesses were dealing with fallout from the storm.
Storm damage forced the Surrey Night Market to close for the remainder of the year. Market organizer Garry Grewal said: “Whatever we had on site, it was totally devastated, including tents, plumbing, electrical work, vendors’ stuff, even our stage, our lights, everything went down.”
Grewal said it would likely be a week or more before they could estimate the cost of the damage, and added: “It’s a total, total loss for us.”
Monday morning, Fortis B.C. advised about 600 employees to stay home from their jobs at the natural gas provider’s Surrey operations centre, because of power outages. Essential operations at the Fleetwood facility were powered by a backup generator, said Fortis spokesman Michael Allison, and none of their customers were affected.
Looking ahead, Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald said the worst of the wind was over, but Lower Mainland residents could expect at least a couple of rainy days.
“That wicked storm that crossed the south coast on Saturday, that’s done with, that was an exceptional, historical storm,” MacDonald said.
With 20 to 40 millimetres of rain expected over Monday and Tuesday, flooding could now be a concern in some Lower Mainland municipalities, MacDonald said, adding: “The real issue here is that all the storm drains are now clogged with leaves and branches.”
The weather was expected to clear up by the weekend, MacDonald said, with sunshine forecast for Sunday, if not earlier.