Windstorm in British Columbia leaves thousands without power

AP News
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Posted: Aug 30, 2015 7:04 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Emergency crews were working Sunday to clean up in the aftermath of a vicious windstorm that tore through southwestern British Columbia, toppling trees and branches onto power lines and cars and leaving an estimated 500,000 people without electricity.

BC Hydro said it could take until Monday morning to restore power to some areas.

The storm hit Saturday with 50-mph (80-kph) winds buffeting the region. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a woman in her 40s suffered life-threatening injuries when a tree fell on her while she was walking with her daughter in Surrey.

The bulk of the power outages occurred in the Greater Vancouver Area, and BC Hydro said that as of 10 a.m. Sunday about 180,000 customers were still waiting for power to be restored.

The City of Vancouver reported receiving more than a thousand weather-related calls regarding debris, damage and flooding.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo also suffered extensive damage in the storm, the facility's general manager Jody Henderson said. Powerful winds caused a number of fences to come down, most notably the barricade surrounding the grizzly bear enclosure.

"We followed our normal emergency protocol. ... Everyone was contained into a building," said Henderson. "At no time did our grizzly bear get out."

The storm triggered wind warnings from Environment Canada, forced the temporary closure of Vancouver's Stanley Park, and slowed ferry service between Victoria and the mainland.

BC Hydro said in a release that crews are addressing public safety issues first and "aim to get power back for highest density areas in order to get as many customers back as possible."