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Sooke hit by power outages, school closures and downed trees during Tuesday's storm


Winds were the worry in Sooke on Tuesday, as authorities say the western communities may have faced the eye of this recent winter storm.

“It was so, so windy,” said Julie Wilson, a resident of Sooke.

“It’s been pretty intense,” said Skye Wormald, another Sooke local.

The storm cut power to 56,000 customers on Vancouver Island. As of Tuesday afternoon, 5,000 of those were still without power.

“The majority of those are down in the Victoria area,” said Ted Olynyk, manager of community relations with BC Hydro, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. “It really hit Sooke and the western communities quite hard.”

“We are hearing reports of everything from branches to trees coming down onto lines,” said Olynyk.

Those power outages led to the Sooke School District canceling classes in three area schools including Sooke Elementary, John Muir Elementary and Westshore Secondary’s Sooke campus.

Teachers and staff were on hand to watch students.

“We’ll make sure that we take care of the kids so they are supervised and they are well taken care of until parents can get there and pick up,” said Paul Block, superintendent of the Sooke School District.

“We are working on contingency plans and back-up plans,” said Block. “We are continuing to work on any of our safety protocols with our staff.”

Port Renfrew Elementary School was also closed.

High tides and strong winds made for some great storm-watching along Whiffin Spit. That was, until public safety became a risk.

With a considerable amount of logs and rocks crashing ashore, the District of Sooke made the call to close the spit in fear that someone was going to get hurt.

Sooke Fire Rescue closing down Whiffin Spit in Sooke, B.C., on Tuesday as high waves send debris crashing into the parking lot. It wasn’t just hydro lines that were damaged by the strong winds. Near Whiffin Spit, two homes had numerous trees come down on top of them.

A tree came crashing down on a sidewalk at the Sooke Centre Mall as well.

“Everything is flooding,” said Wormald.

“It’s insane,” said Wilson.

As hydro crews worked throughout Tuesday to restore power to customers, BC Hydro has a warning to the public in case they were to come across a downed line.

“We always remind the public that if you see a downed line, never assume it’s de-energized just because it’s on the ground,” said Olynyk. “Stay 10 metres back, that’s the length of an average city bus.” People are asked to call 911 and stay clear of the area.

The Sooke School District says it’s keeping an eye on the ever-evolving weather situation, and with temperatures expected to drop in the coming days, snow could be in the forecast for Friday.

If that happens, parents should expect messaging from the district on any more potential school closures. Top Stories

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