As power outages persist, tales of generosity and anger on Salt Spring Island
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, December 24, 2018 3:39PM PST
Last Updated Monday, December 24, 2018 3:40PM PST
There are still thousands of homes without power on Vancouver Island, but one of the hardest-hit regions has been the Gulf Islands.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 4,200 people remained without power on Salt Spring Island, while more than 4,100 were powerless on Pender Island, according to BC Hydro's website.
Most customers on Saturna Island, which has a permanent population of only about 350, were also in the dark on Christmas Eve.
While many stories turned up on social media of residents grateful for crews' efforts, one widely shared post indicated that not all customers were waiting patiently.
"We're got angry customers coming to the door at the Hydro office downtown," a Dec. 22 post attributed to BC Hydro crews on Salt Spring Island said.
"Please be assured that we are aware you don't have power. We realize that 90% of the islands have no electricity, and we are working round the clock to get the power on safely for all of our customers."
The crews pleaded with customers not to come to the BC Hydro office on Salt Spring unless it's for an emergency.
"We are using precious resources dealing with angry customers when we need to be working to get the electricity back on for everyone," it said.
But for every angry customer, there seemed to be people grateful for crews' efforts.
One video posted to Facebook showed a Fernwood Road household flipping their light switch on for the first time in days, while shouting their support for BC Hydro crews.
Others posted on social media asking where they could find BC Hydro crews to show gratitude by bringing them treats and other gifts.
Help was also on the way Monday to help clear the many blocked roads on Salt Spring and other Gulf Islands.
According to Drive BC, 80 per cent of roads on Salt Spring Island were passable with marked hazards, while the other 20 per cent were not driveable. All major routes and ferry terminals were open, Drive BC said.
On Saturna Island, 50 per cent of roads were closed due to fallen trees.
Mainroad South Island crews loaded bottled water and other emergency supplies like jerry cans and flashlights to the islands before delivering them for emergency operations centres.
Mainroad will also be clearing many of the downed trees from currently impassable roads.
"It's pretty devastated, to be frank," Mainroad operations manager Chris Cowley said of Salt Spring. "There's too many trees to count down."
Cowley said BC Hydro was hoping to have all of the power restored on Salt Spring Island by Dec. 30, Galiano Island and Saturna Island by Dec. 29, and Pender Island and Mayne Island on Dec. 27.
"The communities on those Gulf Islands are very resilient and we appreciate their patience," said Cowley. "We're working as hard as we can…we're gonna throw everything we have at it."