Avalanche control near Three Valley Gap in 2017. The highway was closed again today for control work. (Photo by B.C Ministry of Transport)

Power outages east of Sicamous as storm hammers area

BC Hydro said it's due to fallen trees from heavy snow

  • Dec. 20, 2019 12:00 a.m.

There have been multiple power outages east of Sicamous for the past week.

Richard Holweg, 79, lives near the Enchanted Forest roughly 40 km west of the town.

Holweg said his power has been going on and off for the past four days and his calls to BC Hydro have gone unanswered.

“We feel like we’re being forgotten.”

He continued that he’s lived in the area for 25 years and this is the longest intermittent power outage he’s experienced.

“I’m a very unhappy BC Hydro customer.”

Holweg said he’s frustrated that BC Hydro have not returned his calls and lack of communication.

According to BC Hydro, the power outages are due to fallen trees from heavy snowfall, which has affected 41 customers between Malakwa and Revelstoke along Highway 1.

READ MORE: Closed to the east, closed to west: Revelstuck

“Unfortunately trees do not fall all at once and it is impossible to know which trees are going to fall so our job to restore power outages during snowstorms like this is tricky,” said Jen Walker Larsen, spokesperson for BC. Hydro.

Luckily, Holweg has a generator. However, soon he will have to make a trip into town to refuel as levels are getting low.

By 1 p.m. today, power was restored to Holweg’s residence. And B.C. Hydro gave him a call to explain.

Regardless, Holweg isn’t confident his lights will stay on.

According to BC Hydro, the company is experiencing more frequent weather events that are causing significant damage to its system, resulting in more power outages. The company said that 2018 was the worst year for storms with customers losing power for over 11 million hours combined. Last December, BC Hydro experienced it’s worst storm in the company’s history, with over 750,000 customers on the B.C. coast losing power.

READ MORE: BC Hydro calls December storm ‘most destructive in history’

However, for the interior of B.C., the number of outages have decreased by 13 per cent in the last five years. Fallen trees are the most frequent cause of outages at 30 per cent.

B.C. Hydro recommends British Columbians to prepare for storms by having a fully stocked emergency kit. The kit should include: flight light, batteries, first aid kit, required medications, non-perishable food, bottled water to last at least 72 hours, warm clothing and blankets.

There is currently a winter storm warning for the Revelstoke area, with up to 60 cm expected to fall by Saturday. Roughly 100 cm of snow have fallen in the nearby mountains and Highway 1 has closed multiple times for avalanche control and accidents.

There was one road fatality near Revelstoke on Monday and a trucker was pinned in his truck for several hours on Wednesday after sliding off Highway 1 and knocking over a power line. BC Hydro had to cut power to Sicamous, which left the town in the dark for much of the day.

DriveBC has a travel advistory in place.

READ MORE: Trucker trapped in semi for six hours after Highway 1 collision near Sicamous

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