Surrey city workers still busy with fallen trees, over 150 retrieved so far

Dry soil and foliage created "perfect recipe for trees to be pushed over by strong winds," says Surrey operations manager

Surrey crews were swamped over the weekend cleaning up fallen trees after a wild windstorm that blew through the whole Lower Mainland.

SURREY — Surrey city workers have dealt with well more than 150 fallen trees since Saturday’s wild windstorm, according to operations manager Rob Costanzo.

“On Saturday we handled just over 100 trees that had fallen and were obstructing major arterial roads,” he said. “Crews worked throughout the day and by 1 a.m. (Sunday morning) we had the large trees cleared from arterial roads.”

Sunday the city focused efforts on clearing trees on secondary and local roads.

There was still high call volume on Monday, with about 30 calls about trees flooding in by lunchtime.

“And of course we’re still impacted with loss of power,” he said.

Monday morning BC Hydro reported there were roughly 8,800 homes in Surrey still without power.

Costanzo has worked at the City of Surrey since 1991 and said the last and only time a power outage was this impactful was in November, 2006. That was also a windstorm.

While the worst is over, Costanzo doesn’t think the tree issues are over just yet.

“With this kind of windstorm at this time of year, there’s foliage on the trees and it’s been so dry so there’s dry soil conditions. It’s the perfect recipe for trees to be pushed over by strong winds.”

He said there have been several trees that were compromised Saturday and fell down Sunday or Monday because of winds.

“Hopefully we’ve seen the worst of it.”

The Surrey Fire Department has been swamped as well.

Deputy fire chief Karen Fry said the department responded to 299 incidents Saturday, over 126 of which were for wires or hydro poles being down.

On Sunday, another 232 calls came in.

“As power was re-energized throughout the city we saw a lot more hydro pole fires… had wires down calls, motor vehicle accidents and more alarms ringing.”

She explained when power gets rebooted alarms often go off, which the fire department responds to.

“Even today (Monday), so far we’re up to 60 incidents that we’ve responded to. A lot more alarm calls,” she said. “But things are coming back online, which we’re glad to see.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

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