B.C. Hydro and tree service crews work on a section of Nanaimo River Road which suffered extensive damage to power lines when trees were toppled by powerful winds Thursday. CHRIS BUSH/ The News Bulletin

B.C. Hydro warns that ‘extended outages expected’

Utility says it’s still assessing damage in Nanaimo, Duncan and Lake Cowichan

The majority of B.C. customers who experienced power outages after Thursday’s wind storm have electricity again, but tens of thousands are still in the dark.

B.C. Hydro provided an update Saturday afternoon, saying 66,000 of the 600,000 customers on B.C.’s south coast impacted by the storm haven’t yet had power restored, and extended outages are expected in some places.

“Thursday’s wind storm was one of the most devastating storms B.C. Hydro has experienced in the past 20 years…” noted a press release from the utility. “Due to the extent of the damage, some of the hardest-hit areas will be without power for several more days.”

According to Hydro, some roads are impassable and a full damage assessment has not been done in “some of the worse-hit areas like Duncan, Nanaimo, Lake Cowichan and the affected Gulf Islands. As a result, it will take crews several days to restore power to these areas, and other areas may be added as damage assessments are completed.”

B.C. Hydro reiterated that crews are working “around the clock” and will continue to do so until all customers have power restored.

The utility says more than 800 field personnel are repairing 1,100 spans of wire, 300 power poles, 550 cross-arms and 170 transformers destroyed in the storm.

“I know any power outage is an inconvenience and can present challenges – and even more so at this time of year. On behalf of B.C. Hydro, I would like to thank our customers for their continued patience,” said Chris O’Riley, B.C. Hydro’s president and chief operating officer, in the release. “We are doing everything we can to get all of our customers back on.”

Customers can view maps and lists of outages, with information on where work crews have been assigned, at http://bchydro.com/outages.

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