Canada's west coast battles high winds

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Currently, there are blackouts, heavy rain, and high winds in British Columbia. Over 220,000 BC Hydro customers have no power. Buildings have already collapsed and trees have been knowed down. Five Vancouver rivers were in danger of flooding, which rain fell at 10 mm an hour for more than six hours at midday.

The steel frame of a four-storey building under construction in Vancouver collapsed. Construction workers escaped injury, luckily they were on a coffee break at the time of the incident. The steel frame crushed cars in a parking lot and missed a truck driver.

Citizens had to evacuate a subdivision of 30 homes. The winds smashed trees into houses in West Vancouver.

"We have some real fears here with electrical problems," said Captain Rob Jones Cook of the Vancouver Fire Department. "This is impinging on electrical poles and lamp standards. We also have hydro bus lines running down two sides of the building." The Vancouver Fire Department says they have no idea as to why the building collapsed.

Winds are gusting at more than 100 kilometres an hour (62 mph) in some areas and rainfall amounts of 50 to 130 millimetres.

According BC Hydro spokeswoman Elisha Moreno, the hardest-hit areas are Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Mission, B.C. "We're trying to be optimistic and hoping it's by end of day today, but there may very well be customers that are into the early-morning hours before restoration," Moreno said.

Extensive ferry cancellations, road closures, and massive power outages are in effect until the storm ends.

The RCMP have advised people to stay home and off the highway.

The same heavy weather has also affected nearby Washington State, USA.