The power has been restored at Bella Bella Friday, Jan 7 after the remote Central Coast community endured two nights without power.
BC Hydro sent crews on the CCGS Sir John Franklin to the community Friday morning tasked on a humanitarian mission to transport.
CCGS Sir John Franklin is tasked on a humanitarian mission to transport @BCHydro to Bella Bella. BC Hydro has been unable to reach the Heiltsuk First Nation via road or air due to the #BCstorm pic.twitter.com/9hnAdlNGQp
— Canadian Coast Guard (@CoastGuardCAN) January 7, 2022
Heiltsuk Nation emergency coordinator Randy Carpenter told Black Press Media Friday the power outage impacted 450 homes.
“There was a backup generator from Shearwater but it only powered about a third of the town the last 18 hours,” Carpenter said.
After the first night without power, Carpenter said he was driving in his truck and pulled over at noon to call Emergency Management BC.
“From there we put together a plan for the Coast Guard to come and pick up the hydro crew and bring them here.”
During the power outage the community’s Big House was being used as a feeding centre.
There is a big fire pit in the centre of the Big House, and it would have been used as a place for people to warm up, but unfortunately in order to open the shafts to let the smoke out electricity is required.
“We will be looking at putting a generator in the Big House for the future,” Carpenter said, noting ‘probably’ the only building in the community with a generator is the Bella Bella Hospital.
The band store is in the process of getting a generator, he added.
While the exact cause of the outage was not determined, Carpenter’s guess was cold weather.
Snow has been falling in the Bella Bella area off and on for about a month and temperatures have been cold due to Arctic outflow winds.
“We are supposed to get one more dump of snow tonight and then it is supposed to rain for about a week.”
Dave Mosure, northern community relations for BC Hydro, said he has not heard back from the crews as to the cause of the outage, but said the power was restored at 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Mosure noted sending crews on a Coast Guard vessel was not the norm, however, there was no other way to get them there.
“The good news the power is back on,” he added.
Carpenter said while some homes in Bella Bella have wood stoves, lately there had been a ‘big push’ to switch to heat pump systems.
“A lot of people got rid of their wood stoves and furnaces. I think in the last year and a half we have had 150 heat pumps installed into homes. They are great but when the power goes out and you don’t have the wood stoves and the furnaces anymore it gets pretty cold.”
During the power outage the community was also under a ‘stay at home’ order due to there being 33 positive COVID-19 cases.
This was the second time the Coast Guard came to the community’s aid in recent times.
“Last summer when the BC Ferries vessels broke down the Coast Guard brought supplies into our community,” Carpenter said.