UPDATE: Windstorm that swept B.C. south coast among 'most severe' in years: Hydro

Boats are battered by waves at the end of the White Rock Pier that was severely damaged during a windstorm, in White Rock, B.C., on Thursday December 20, 2018. One person who was trapped on the pier had to be rescued by helicopter.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER - White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker says it could take months and millions of dollars to repair the city's beloved pier after part of it was ripped away during an intense windstorm that swept British Columbia's southern coast.

It's one of several communities dealing with the aftermath of Thursday's storm, which BC Hydro is describing as among the most severe in many years.

The 457 metre pier will be closed until further notice after several boats broke away from their moorings and battered the middle of the pier, eventually collapsing a 30-metre section, Walker said.

"The damage that was done to our pier appears to be something that will take some months for us to recoup from, it's extremely damaged," he said.

The force of the waves also tossed logs and concrete picnic tables onto the popular promenade along the city's waterfront and Walker said that area will be cordoned off while repairs are made.

One person was trapped at the end of the pier and had to be airlifted by helicopter to safety at the height of the storm but no one was hurt.

BC Hydro said about 155,000 customers were still without power by midday Friday and some could be in the dark for days as crews work to repair outages on Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley.

"Yesterday's windstorm was one of the most severe storms BC Hydro has experienced in years," a post on the utility's website said.

At its height, about 400,000 customers lost electricity and many remained without power overnight.

Environment Canada says gusts topped 100 km/h just south of Vancouver and in parts of the Fraser Valley, making the storm more powerful than the 2006 gales that levelled a large section of forest in Stanley Park.

The City of Nanaimo issued a statement Friday saying the storm and power outage damaged its water treatment plant's delivery system and it asked residents and businesses not to use the city's water. The city closed its pools and arenas until further notice.

A woman in her late 20s died when a tree fell in Duncan, although her death has not officially been linked to the storm.

The BC Coroners Service is in the early stages of its investigation and can release no further details at this time, it said.

"Our investigation will look at how she died, where and by what means," spokesman Andy Watson said.

All wind warnings have been dropped and service is getting back to normal on BC Ferries routes after most sailings were cancelled Thursday.

The first sailings Friday were already full on most major routes, while power outages at smaller terminals were affecting those schedules.


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