Storm recovery: business losses, neighbours help each other across Boundary

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
July 26th, 2012

The electricity may be flowing, but some local businesses are still cleaning up the mess from the weekend wind storm that took down trees and knocked out power for days.

While power returned to most of Grand Forks within a few hours of the storm, Christina Lake remained without power until about 2 p.m. Saturday — 21 hours after the storm hit.

Homecoming activities went on as scheduled, but local businesses felt the pinch as frozen assets began to melt.

All Huckleberry Mountain Market assistant manger Melanie Shenstone could do was watch as thousands of dollars of frozen food melted in the store’s wall of upright freezers.

“We took a loss,” said Shenstone, adding that they’re thankful for insurance.

The difficulty continues at the Crow and Bear Pub where about 15 minutes after the power went out, a tree fell down on the power line going into the pub. They are still without power as of today, Wednesday, July 25.

“The tree ripped the wires out of the eight foot wall and out of the top,” said Sarah Leslie pub co-owner. “The Crow and Bear Pub is extremely thankful no one was hurt. It could have been so much worse if the power had been on when the damage happened.”

An electrician and FortisBC workers are working on getting the power back on as soon as possible. Leslie hopes to have power by Saturday so they can open up the pub again.

Besides remaining closed, Leslie and her husband and pub owner, Rupert Oldroyd, lost most of their perishable food. They too are thankful for insurance.

Larry Vartiainen of the Ice Creamery was fortunate enough to have learned from past power outages. He had enough generators to keep half of his freezers going at one time. He spent Friday night getting up every two hours to switch the freezers over to keep his hundreds of litres of ice cream cold.

“Now I know how my wife feels when she has to get up with the baby,” said Vartiainen, with a chuckle.

“We were relatively unscathed.”

All he lost was the ice cream in his soft serve machine and some sleep.

Parts of the North Fork Road remained without power for 72 hours after the storm. The power returned at 8:30 p.m. Monday, July 23.

“The whole thing was an eye-opener,” said Doug Zorn, a North Fork Road resident and owner of North Fork Pork. “It’s amazing how a 15 to 20 minute windstorm can change everything.”

Zorn has a generator, which kept all his freezers going. But the generator, which sucked up $30 of gas a day, couldn’t run the pump for his well. So he drove twice a day to a neighbour in Grand Forks to fill up two 45 gallon drums to keep his livestock properly hydrated.

Although they weren’t completely cut off from Grand Forks — Zorn said a few more trees and they would have been — the isolating experience brought the neighbours even closer together.

“It was nice to see the community come together. People were going around to make sure all the older neighbours were okay. Neighbours were cutting wood — it was nice to know the community can come together.”

Zorn said he hopes people learn from this past storm to better prepare themselves for things to come.

Greenwood sewage system back on line after rain storm

The City of Greenwood was the least hit in the region. While the rain poured and the power flickered the only thing that was affected was the pumps at the sewage plant. The heavy rain knocked out the sewage station pumps, said Greenwood mayor Nipper Kettle.

“The guys (city staff) worked all evening in the rain to get it sorted out … There appears to be no other damage. Some transformers were knocked out for awhile.”

“We weren’t nearly as impacted as Danville (Washington),” said Kettle.”Curlew is a mess.”

Kettle, an avid cyclist, went across the line to check things out. What he discovered was hundreds of trees blown down in the same direction. The small Northern Washington community was without power for days following the storm.

Kettle said Greenwood is most hit by the tragic news out of Grand Forks.

“We offer our condolences to the family and all those affected by the Pines Bible Camp,” said Kettle.

Categories: BusinessGeneralIssues