Storm damage. (submitted)

Editorial: Looking back at windstorm helps us prepare for next time

BC Hydro says it was the most destructive storm in its history

The Dec. 20, 2018 windstorm that walloped Vancouver Island was one for the history books.

BC Hydro says it was the most destructive storm in its history, a fact to which many of us can attest, as residents spent days, and some more than a week without power. On the whole, the response of not only our power and other utilities and local governments was impressive, but the response of regular people, with their willingness to help one another, was heart warming.

People with generators or woodstoves offered sanctuary and hot water to family and friends who were left without.

Local government authorities opened up warming centres where people could get showers and a small break from their unwanted trip back in time to the days before electricity dominated our daily lives in ways we take for granted. Volunteer fire departments were sprinting, acting as first responders and traffic control as more and more roads became impassible because of fallen trees and hydro lines.

BC Hydro stepped up like we’ve never seen.

Faced with an outage map that looked like it had the measles, it’s incredible that Hydro workers restored power to more than 700,000 people in a matter of a couple of weeks.

And all of this in the days before, during, and after Christmas, a time when typically people head off for holidays and family cheer, not hours working in the chilly outdoors.

But there are also lessons that can be learned.

For individuals, it brought home how prepared, or not, they are to withstand an emergency.

For an area facing a massive earthquake at some point in the future according to scientists, this is not just an academic question. Likewise, how well did our institutions respond? What went well? What could have gone better? What didn’t work at all?

Examining these questions both as individuals and communities can leave us better prepared for the next time.

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