Island in recovery mode following storm

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As Salt Spring slowly starts recovering from Thursday’s devastating wind storm, the island’s emergency program is urging people to take advantage of programs that will help keep them warm and give them access to water.

A warming and recovery centre was opened at the Salt Spring Seniors Centre at 379 Lower Ganges Road on Sunday and re-opens today (Monday, Dec. 24) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Further opening days and hours are possible but not known yet.

People can have coffee and other refreshments, charge their computers and cell phones, and share information. A help board lists people who have services to offer, such as a spare room close to town, chainsaw services or who are willing to drive people where they need to go.

On Sunday, emergency program coordinator Elizabeth Zook was urging people to try to access the help they need, and for others to provide that help either through the emergency POD program or in their role as neighbours.

“I’m really happy that no one died,” said emergency program coordinator Elizabeth Zook in assessing the events on Thursday and since then. 

“It was ugly as hell,” she said, but said things are going well considering the magnitude of the disaster.

An estimated 4,200 customers were still without power on Sunday morning, according reports the EOC was receiving from BC Hydro.

Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk indicated Sunday that good progress was expected to be made on Salt Spring by Christmas Day, although pockets of outages would obviously remain.

“This was an historic event for the islands,” he said.

Hydro trucks were set to arrive en masse on the islands on Monday, with the Lower Mainland outages having now been dealt with. Some 23,000 customers were without power on Monday morning, down from a peak of about 600,000.

People who are isolated and need help should find a way to call Zook or another EOC person through the 250-537-1220 number. PODs have been activated and POD volunteers should be checking on neighbours in areas that are organized.

About 70 people came to the Legion on Thursday evening when it was opened as a reception centre.

“The Legion Ladies Auxiliary came and cooked things and made sure we had coffee and everything,” said EOC volunteer Neva Hohn. 

For people that need water, the Harbour Authority of Salt Spring Island has offered people to fill up from their taps, as has Moby’s Pub.

A number of CRD water service districts are on boil water advisories as infrastructure was damaged in the storm. On Sunday, Beddis Water District 

Zook reminds people to sign up for the Public Alert Notification system. It was activated on Friday to advise Highland-Fernwood water district users about the boil water advisory but only 19 people are signed up for PANS in that area.

Olynyk also urged people to not view down trees on lines as “free firewood.”

Lines may appear to be dead but could be energized in some cases, such as if a property owner plugs in a generator.

“You don’t want to thank God personally for the firewood.”

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