If a broken BC Hydro pole found washed up in Boundary Bay could speak, it would tell of an epic journey down three rivers to the Pacific Ocean.
The pole — which was originally located next to the Nicola River west of Merritt — has been found hundreds of kilometres away in Boundary Bay after being washed away in flooding along Highway 8 during the atmospheric river in mid-November, 2021.
On November 14 and 15, the region was impacted by a significant weather system that brought relentless rain and heavy flooding. The weather destroyed a total of six kilometres of Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge, and BC Hydro lost 87 power poles and 14 transformers along the route.
On Christmas Day, a BC Hydro employee was out for a walk along the 12th Avenue dyke in Tsawwassen when they recognized a marked pole that had washed up along the rocks. BC Hydro verified that the pole was installed in 2010 in the Shackan community along Highway 8 west of Merritt, and has been missing since the storm in November.
“The pole would’ve made the epic journey down the Nicola River, past Spences Bridge, into the Thompson River, down the Fraser River and into the Pacific Ocean (Straight of Georgia) before floating around past Tsawwassen and Point Roberts and finally into Boundary Bay,” says Kyle Donaldson, BC Hydro spokesperson.
“The pole itself is broken. And for it to have travelled the way it did, speaks to the severity of this flooding event.”
More than 60 BC Hydro poles from the Highway 8 corridor are still unaccounted for, two months after the flooding, and 50 customers in Merritt and the surrounding area remain without power, down from 289 on Dec. 6. All of the remaining restorations require extensive reconstruction of Highway 8 and then large-scale rebuilds of distribution lines in new locations. BC Hydro estimates this ongoing work will continue well into the spring or early summer.
BC Hydro has updates about its work in the region at www.bchydro.com. The Ministry of Transportation is also providing regular updates about its work on Highway 8; to read the bulletins, go to https://bit.ly/3HvAmwq.