Maple Ridge ‘kept taps running’

Wires down, power out, sewage could have backed up

  • Sep. 10, 2015 8:00 p.m.

Streets were closed

Maple Ridge fire, police and public works were kept hopping Aug. 29 when a wild storm with winds of up to 100 km/h walloped the West Coast.

Public works crews answered 180 calls relating to downed trees, power outages and live wires on the ground.

Russ Carmichael, director of engineering operations, told council Tuesday that 11 trees fell on to houses in Maple Ridge.

As for the Maple Ridge Fire Department, it received 75 calls in a 12-hour period compared to an average of about a dozen calls a day, deputy chief Howard Exner added.

However, there was only one car crash, when trees at 116th Avenue crashed down on to a moving vehicle and two parked cars.

With no electricity as a result of widespread outages across Metro Vancouver, there was no power to pump out the sewage stations. That required crews to move mobile generators from station to station in order to keep them pumped out.

“A lot of stuff you didn’t see, but at least we kept the taps running,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael agreed with the theory that the extensive damage from the storm was caused by drought-stressed trees in full foilage in soil recently softened by rain were easily blown down by the wind.

Council watched a video clip of live wires dancing with sparks across a road while bystanders ignored firefighters.

But even wires that are not sparking could be live and give a fatal shock. And trees that contact live wires can also carry electricity, Exner said.

Eight major intersections were also without traffic lights, although back-up batteries kept them operating for some time after the power went out.

One of the most severe threats came when power was cut to the city’s communications tower at the top of Thornhill, although that went to backup power.

Public works has since printed out more road signs that will be placed to warn the public when live wires are across a road.

 

 

 

 

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