The Big Storm

Our internet is finally back tonight after three days down, so now I can let you know what excitement we’ve had here!

We’ve experienced the worst windstorm in the 30 plus years we’ve lived in the Vancouver area. Of three storms last week – on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – Friday’s was the worst of a whole month-long-of-storms. It was a massive hit in the early hours of Friday, December 15th. Our power went out about 3:30 a.m. Winds were at hurricane levels in some areas. I was quite fearful that our two very tall trees would be blown down on us. Thankfully they weren’t, while many others did suffer losses of homes, vehicles and boats because of falling trees.

We kept warm thanks to an old-fashioned fireplace insert with a cooktop, enabling us to boil water for tea and eggs, and heat milk for hot cocoa. We’ve lots of firewood from building scraps and logs from our own felled or pruned trees from over the years. Friday evening, we did go out for a hot meal. The normally quiet restaurant not far from us but outside the outage zone, was packed with people constantly coming in. The staff was kept hopping and finally had to turn away people because they were running out of food. Afterwards, back at home, we sat by the fire with candles, playing a game of cards and listening to Christmas music on the iPod/speakers – nice and cozy.

Overnight it snowed a bit and the house was quite chilly until we got the fire going again. Our power came back on Saturday around 11 a.m. here but many others were still without. We went for a walk to check out the neighbourhood and the park. We could not believe the numbers of huge trees uprooted, fallen down, or split halfway, with billions of branches littering the forest floor and paths. We frequently had to climb over these. (I wished we’d taken the camera!) Some of these massive trees had fallen over the main road early Friday morning, causing this local but widespread power outage. The wharf and floats were severely damaged, and we could see a half sunken barge. If this was immense damage, Vancouver’s Stanley Park would be far far worse, exposed as it is to the open sea. We’d heard that the Lions Gate Bridge was closed Friday due to fallen trees along the causeway through the park.

Hydro reported that we usually get three bad storms a year (with power outages), we’ve had nine and it’s not even winter yet! 250,000 homes, the most in history, were affected. The storm hit Washington and Oregon as well with four deaths reported.

Some curious thoughts while “surviving”:
– With all our technological wizardry – how come we cannot invent a manual startup for our heating systems, rather than being dependent on electricity to fire up? If many gas fireplaces have this option, why not furnaces and boilers?
– We were glad we’d hung onto our old rotary dial phones! Did you know that the “portable” phones need power? (We don’t have cell phones.)
-We were thankful we didn’t change out our old-fashioned fireplace insert with it’s small cooktop, BUT the fan is electrical for maximum heat output. We managed to keep warm anyway. Sometimes modern and sleek isn’t such a good idea.
-Our hot water tank is heated via natural gas and did not shut off like an electrical one would have been. Thankfully.
-How come our power lines are not buried underground like in many European countries and even places like South Africa?
– Many thoughts about man vs nature and city vs country survival skills. We’re pretty dependent on electricity and heat, and we sure missed the internet, spoiled city folk that we are.

December 17, 2006 in Canada and BC, Current Events, Home by Marja-Leena