Friday , October 22 2021

Tofino in the dark: community coping without energy



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Many Tofino homes and businesses have run out of electricity for two days, but the community is coming together to keep the mood bright.

BC Hydro teams are trying to restore energy to the area after the city became dark during a strong windstorm at 8:30 am on Thursday, according to Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne.

Osborne said power has returned to a few houses and hotels and meanwhile, locals are getting the best of a difficult situation.

"We are very resilient helping each other and strengthening each other," Osborne said.

Improvised community feast

Lil 's employees at Backyard BBQ decided that lack of energy was the perfect time to prepare a free banquet.

Co-owner Matt Oakes realized that there was no way to keep all the meat he had in storage from spoiling, so the team decided to grill everything and give a free banquet to the community.

"All the refrigerators are down," Oakes said. "So being able to do that is the perfect solution."

Oakes said 150 people had already arrived for dinner before 5:00 pm, and he expected more people to show up and share the sausages, breasts and chili that Lil 'Ronnies is serving.

According to Oakes, many of the diners are local, and for him, the party seems like a good way to reciprocate.

Tofino's mayor, Josie Osborne (left) and Ronnie Lee (right), co-owner of Lil 'Ronnie's Backyard BBQ at the makeshift community barbecue held on Saturday. (Subject)

Phenomenal Storm Watching

And for visitors heading to the seaside town to watch over the storm, the last two days have been "phenomenal," according to Charles McDiarmid, managing director of the Wickanninish Inn.

"Our cup is overflowing with storm-watching activity," McDiarmid said.

He said that many people were heading for the coast, since it was safe to watch big waves breaking on the beach.

The Wickanninish lost power on Thursday for about 18 hours, but McDiarmid said on-site generators kept power in resort restaurants even though the rooms were in the dark. Some guests dined by candlelight.

"The guests are loving it. It's been very romantic," he said.

Some surfers are also enjoying the big waves that the tempestuous weather has triggered.

According to Osborne, stormy conditions mean that experienced surfers can cycle on beaches where the waves are not normally suitable, such as Tonquin Beach, near the city center.

Osborne is grateful to those who work all the time to turn on the lights. She said that the hydropower teams are working to restore the energy of the community hospital, which is running on generator power.

BC Hydro spokeswoman Tanya Fish said that Thursday's windstorm was one of the severest storms to hit the province in 20 years.

According to Fish, 600,000 British Colombians lost energy during the storm.

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