Four employees of Totem Tree Service spent an exhausting day and night on Tuesday (Dec. 19) clearing trees from Highway 4 in Cathedral Grove during the snowstorm that hit Vancouver Island and the south coast.
“We had trees falling over every minute through the Grove last night,” Totem Tree Service owner Dave Potter said. “It was a really stressful situation for all people. We had to keep our eyes up all the time looking for falling branches breaking off, overhanging the road, trees falling in behind—cracking every second.”
Potter had two crews of two people and two pickup trucks between them working in the Grove from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, bucking up trees that fell across the road to keep the highway clear. Totem is a Port Alberni-based company that takes care of dangerous tree removals for Emcon Services, the highway contractor on Vancouver Island.
“We cleared about 60 trees off the roads,” Potter said. “Some were as big as three feet in diameter. The trees were coming down because of the heavy snow load and saturated soil’s first big snow of the year,” he explained.
Potter and his three colleagues worked as fast as they could to get the debris off the road. “For some of the big ones we had the snowplough helping push the logs off the road,” he said.
“In those situations we don’t worry about doing any cleanup other than keeping it clear off the road for the cars and the snowplows.”
The snow played havoc on the Hump, especially Tuesday morning when several semi-trucks got stuck. Numerous accidents were reported on the east side of Vancouver Island as well as Highway 4 both east and west of Port Alberni.
Environment Canada estimating more snow for Vancouver Island for Dec. 21–22.
* Edited to correct day of the week