By Korie Marshall

On Dec 5 at about 2:30 am, power went out to many residents and businesses in Valemount, McBride and in between, as a tree came down on a line near McLennan’s Truck Stop just outside of Valemount. A pole and some equipment were damanged on one of the feeder lines from the substation, according to a BC Hydro spokesperson. The outage affected roughly 650 customers in Valemount, Tete Jaune and Dunster, with the generator kicking in to provide power to McBride. Power was restored around 1:30 pm, and BC Hydro thanked customers for their patience and apologized for any inconvenience.

What made the outage really different from the outages in the fall was the temperature. The Government of Canada’s Weather Office website doesn’t record past temperature for Valemount of McBride, but it records lows of -18 C in Blue River, and a resident in Tete Jaune recorded a temperature of -25 C when he noticed the power had gone out. Some residents, including families with small children, sought shelter with friends and neighbours who had power, while the temperature in their homes dipped. The high school in McBride was also affected, as the building was cold when people arrived in the morning, and the cool temperatures are suspected to have caused some water pipes to burst, flooding sections of the school. The school is serviced by the generator, but the boiler may not have restarted properly after the power initially went out.

After over 11 hours without power in those temperatures, some homes and businesses also sustained damage. A number of residents reported frozen pipes, wells and water pumps, and at least two pumps had to be replaced. Cheryl-Ann Byford reported the pump that supplies Abernathy’s shop as well as the truck stop and two houses had to be replaced, at a cost of over $1400 plus labour.

BC Hydro has some info on their website about how to prepare for a power outage. Public Safety Canada has an online booklet on protecting yourself, your family and your home in case of a power outage, and in case you need to evacuate, especially during cold winter months.