A tree nearly as wide as the Courtenay River flows under the Fifth Street Bridge during the first of a series of storms to hit Courtenay over the weekend. Forecasters are advising residents to brace themselves for more wet weather throughout the week.

Winter storm batters Comox Valley

BC Hydro dealing with weather-related power outages

Scott Stanfield

Record staff

The first major storm of the winter season caused flooding in homes and power outages throughout the Valley, but by Monday morning, water levels had yet to reach last year’s “storm of the century” levels.

Water has yet to hit the aqua dam, the new piece of equipment which the City of Courtenay purchased to help prevent flooding in and around the Puntledge Business District.

However, for the time being, the aqua dam will remain standing on the Old Island Highway between Ryan and Headquarters roads.

“Thats not a bad thing,” CAO David Allen said. “Hopefully we won’t have to put it to the test, but if the water does come up, it will hopefully do its job and deflect or keep back some of the water that impacted everybody in the industrial park last year.”

Last December’s storm was the largest-ever flood to hit Courtenay. The Fifth Street Bridge and several roads were closed, along with the Lewis Centre, the LINC Youth Centre and the Airpark. Homes and businesses near the Tsolum, Puntledge and Courtenay rivers were evacuated.

The aqua dam is a water-filled, portable device that stands one metre. It requires round-the-clock security, so staff will determine this week whether it needs to remain standing.

“That will depend on what the weather forecast is like,” Allen said.

BC Hydro is providing the City with updates on rainfall and river flows. Staff is having regular teleconference calls with Emergency Management BC, and the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts.

“We’re keeping on top of things,” Allen said.

“So far we’ve been fortunate.”

There is concern, however, about the Pineapple Express weather system possibly coming our way late-Monday or Tuesday. The weather pattern brings southwest winds to the Pacific Northwest or California along with warm, moist air.

BC Hydro has released a substantial amount of water in anticipation of rains to come.

“Generally, BC Hydro’s flood risk management operations may be able to handle a few storms, but not potentially five storms in succession,” Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson said Friday. “This is the worst case scenario. Each storm eats away at our reservoir water storage capacity.”

Power outages abound

More than 10,000 Comox Valley residents were left in the dark Sunday, thanks to a massive storm which battered the area.

According to Ted Olynyk, BC Hydro’s community relations manager for Vancouver Island, many residents found themselves in the dark just after 7 p.m.

Power was restored to the majority of the area by Monday morning, with just 1,200 customers on Hornby Island awaiting their power.

“It’s not unusual this time of year to have this many storms, but it is usual to have this many events in a row,” he said, and added BC Hydro does bring in extra crews to help with storm events.

Olynyk noted while Smart Meters do help to indicate where power is down, he encourages customers to always report an outrage.

“Always call 9-1-1 if you see a downed line,” he added.

–Erin Haluschak

 

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