No power overnight for some B.C. Hydro customers, Bell's mobile network also damaged

·3 min read
A woman stands looking out at a flooded part of Merritt, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (CBC - image credit)
A woman stands looking out at a flooded part of Merritt, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (CBC - image credit)

B.C. Hydro says some customers will be without power for a second night in a row as an extreme storm system wallops British Columbia.

At one point on Monday more than 100,000 B.C. Hydro customers were without power, with outages concentrated in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast region, southern Vancouver Island, as well as the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

B.C. Hydro says weather conditions and road closures are limiting crew access in many areas and power restoration could take some time. Updates can be found here.

Late on Monday the utility said in a tweet, "all available crews are working through the night ... we expect some customers will be without power overnight."

'It's been a day'

A customer is equivalent to a household so that figure includes much more than 100,000 people, said B.C. Hydro spokesperson Kyle Donaldson.

"It's been a day."

He says there was a power outage for the entire community of Hope overnight and again Monday morning, but crews were able to develop a temporary fix until a more permanent one can be completed.

"There were several mudslides in the Hope area that knocked out some of our infrastructure," said Donaldson.

"This is a really difficult area for our crews to access. The roads are impassable and the slopes are very dangerous and the weather conditions have not been favourable."

Parts of the province have seen up to 230 millimetres of rain in just 48 hours, and rainfall warnings remain in effect across southern B.C.

Environment Canada is forecasting another 30 millimetres for areas that have been hit the hardest by relentless rainfall that began Saturday.

There have been mudslides and localized flooding — including a flood that prompted the evacuation of the entire City of Merritt Monday morning.

The hydroelectric company also issued flood alerts related to the operation of the following resevoirs: Wahleach (near Hope), Alouette (near Maple Ridge), and Daisy Lake-Cheakamus (near Squamish).

Bell Mobility outages

Some Bell Mobility customers might experience outages due to "multiple fibre cuts" because of the rain and flooding in British Columbia, the telecom giant said in a statement to CBC News.

The network failures did not help with evacuation efforts in Merritt. The City of Merritt said competition on the network is leading to failed calls that are critical for co-ordinating emergency response. It requested that residents only make calls from within the city if they are essential for facilitating evacuation.

In a tweet, E-Comm, B.C.'s emergency communications operations, said if you cannot get through to 911 on your cellphone, find an alternative means of communication like a landline or alternative service provider or head to the nearest emergency room, police or fire department if you are able to do so.

At Vancouver International Airport, a spokesperson said the Air Canada kiosks were down for a while as a result of the Bell system disruptions, but operations have since resumed.

Bell says it is working with its partners "to restore services as quickly and safely as possible."

Telus says there are no disruptions to its wireless network although it may appear so when Telus customers who attempt to phone or text someone on a network that is experiencing a disruption finds their calls and texts are not going through.

It says its teams are also closely monitoring the B.C. storm.

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