Jay Vaughn, Brian Pohto and Janet Pohto opened up the Island Sun’s tuna freezers for anyone worried about food thawing over the four-day power outage on Malcolm Island. (Christopher Hurst photo)

Jay Vaughn, Brian Pohto and Janet Pohto opened up the Island Sun’s tuna freezers for anyone worried about food thawing over the four-day power outage on Malcolm Island. (Christopher Hurst photo)

Community shines bright during power outage

Hardest hit areas on the North Island stepped up to keep neighbours warm and fed

Last week’s power outage gave the North Island a chance to shine, and if you ask those who work in emergency support services, they shone brightly.

“The response was very organic, very Malcolm Island,” said Marjorie Giroux, the emergency services support worker in Sointula. People were checking in on neighbours, sharing generators.

There were a few people driving around the small island with generators in their trucks to let people charge their devices for a while.

Sointula had no power for almost four full days.

“It was one of the longest outages in recent memory. We’ve had the occasional over-nighter but not to this extent,” Giroux said.

As the hours dragged on, the crew of the Island Sun fishing boat, owned by Island Fishing, realized that frozen food would be thawing. The boat still had freezers installed from the tuna fishing season, so they opened up their hold for locals to put their frozen food into.

For folks who prepare their own food for the winter, this was no small gesture. A handful of people came with labelled boxes to preserve their frozen goods. Island Sun crew member Brian Pohto expects many more would have come had the power not been restored so quickly.

“I’m just glad we still had the freezers installed,” said Pohto. The freezers were for tuna fishing, and would be removed for a different fishery.

The pandemic unexpectedly helped Malcolm Islanders prepare for emergencies like this. Giroux said. Earlier in the year a group of supporters combed through the phone book and made a list of people who were at high risk. They also developed a COVID buddy system, which naturally reemerged during the power outage for people to check on each other.

The pandemic group had also made lots of soup to have on hand in case someone needed to self-isolate for two weeks.

No one has needed to isolate like that, but the homemade food was a welcome boon for people who only had electric heat in the power outage.

Giroux and Michelle Pottage, the other ESS, heated up bowls of soup and delivered them around town to people who had only had cold food for days.

Over in Port Alice, the warming station was a big help for folks who were out of power for almost as long as Sointula. Village staff ran the station out of the community centre, offering coffee and hot soup — they even had meatloaf one day — and cots for people who wanted to sleep in a warm place.

Offers of help flew back and forth on the community facebook pages, with some members chirping in from out of town, sending warm thoughts and reminiscing about the goodness of small towns.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


B.C. windstormpower outages

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press Media file
Port Hardy RCMP on the hunt for porta-pottie arsonist

The porta-potties were lit on fire early in the morning on June 13

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read