Although the Village of Nakusp monitors storms, this one erupted without much warning. The intense wind, rain, and lightning rolled in across the Southern Interior early in the morning on Monday June 25, bringing trees and branches down causing considerable damage. It knocked power out for customers from North Nakusp to Edgewood/Whatshan Lake area and up to 45,000 people including parts of the Okanagan and also reaching Salmon Arm.
Uprooted trees landed on power lines causing widespread outages to customers in neighbourhoods and communities outside of the downtown core of Nakusp. The remainder of Monday meant the sound of chainsaws and cleanup of windthrown debris for many area residents. Power was restored to the majority of affected customers by Monday evening.
This was also the first day on the job for new Director of Operations for Public Works, Bart Chenuz.
Speaking with the Arrow Lakes News, Chenuz said, “We had about 40 trees come down on village and private property. We are still in the midst of cleaning up. We’ve got lots of material here now from the brushing of dangerous trees. Village staff have been helping with clearing up debris on road right of ways.”
According to BC Hydro, 1,900 customers in the greater Nakusp area were without power at the peak of the storm resulting from damage to powerlines. Issues like trees on lines, lines down, and damaged poles meant calling on additional staff. BC Hydro representative Jen Walker-Larson said, “Throughout the day fresh crews rolled in from other areas of the province to lend a hand. By Tuesday evening we had 11 separate crews working in the Nakusp area to remove trees, fix broken poles, and re-energize the power lines.”
When restoring power, Walker-Larson said they focus first on safety and repairing issues that present an immediate danger to health and safety. From there it is a matter of restoring power to critical services (hospitals, fire and water systems) and getting the most customers back on as quickly as possible. The hierarchy means restoring power to communities, then neighbourhoods, and finally individual customers.
“The staff did an excellent job. They still are, we have to get ready for July 1. We’re still doing the parks, we had a lot of trees knocked down there. They are working full bore to get it all cleaned up, ” said Chenuz, ““The staff did great customer service too. They went around and knocked on doors making sure that everyone had water after [a water line] broke. ”
Private property sustained a fair amount of damage, including a scene at Gabe Dieterman’s. He was waiting for insurance to weigh in before debris removal when the Arrow Lakes News stopped by for photos, “We are just lucky that didn’t come through the wall of the house,” he stated referring to a treetop that had broken off about fifty feet up and speared the porch roof after hitting the exterior wall and a window. Sections of the tree also crashed through his wooden fence and hit the hood of his vehicle causing damage.
Many residences and vehicles were impacted by the uprooting of trees and branch blowdown. Trees blew over and landed on power lines adjacent to the emergency services building; a section of the wooded area in that block was taped off until the trees could be removed from the power lines there.
Lines were moving quickly at the RDCK landfill site Monday morning, where vehicles and trailers laden with branches were dumping their loads onto the growing wood pile. Although power was out on site, employee Ken Ponto said, “I do my best to guess what the weight would be,” so that he could charge people accordingly for their loads since the scale wasn’t operating.
Drainage along right of ways around people’s driveways and on roads were damaged, with Chenuz saying, “It was hit pretty hard with unique rainfall so we have fixed up some of the serious spots. All in all, no homes were flooded. People were very patient, I want to thank everyone in the town too, they’ve been great.”
Cleanup in the Nakusp area was finished by the weekend.
Walker-Larson issued the reminder that downed power lines can be extremely dangerous. One should assume it is energized, stay at least 10 metres away and call 911. Dialing 911 ensures that the area will be secured, and BC Hydro will be called immediately to send a crew who can work on the assessment and repair.