Working to restore power

UPDATE: 2:50 p.m.

Crews are working in icy conditions in British Columbia's Fraser Valley, trying to restore power to thousands of customers left without electricity following intense ice storms in the region.

Two storms slammed the area Thursday and Friday, coating trees, roads and everything in between with a thick layer of ice.

The weight of the ice snapped tree branches and downed power lines throughout the region, leaving about 120,000 people were left without electricity, said BC Hydro spokeswoman Tanya Fish.

Around 29,000 were still without power Saturday afternoon.

"It's been a very challenging couple of days for our crews. We're repairing extensive damage to our system caused by the freezing rain," Fish said.

BC Hydro has a team of in-house meteorologists who track weather that could cause damage to infrastructure and plans were put in place to respond to the winter storm, she added.

"We were ready for this one. We did have crews on standby on Thursday anticipating that storm," Fish said. "Obviously, it's extremely challenging conditions and the damage to our system was so extensive that repairs are taking longer than we'd like."

BC Hydro has brought in extra crews from Vancouver Island and the Southern Interior to help with repairs, but conditions have at times been difficult and dangerous.

Fish said roads in the area were icy Friday, visibility was poor and ice-loaded branches crashed down around crews as they worked.

No one was injured, but BC Hydro cut back on the workload to ensure the crews' safety, Fish said.

By Saturday, conditions had improved, with clear skies and less precipitation falling, allowing workers to concentrate on repairing damage from the storms.

Fish said it's not clear when power will be restored for all customers, but work will continue throughout the night Saturday, if necessary.

– with files from The Canadian Press

ORIGINAL: 9 a.m.

There are still 36,000 homes in the Fraser Valley without power Saturday morning, after two ice storms knocked out power to over 100,000 homes Friday.

Freezing rain throughout the region caused branches and trees to break, impacting hundreds of power lines, power poles and power boxes.

BC hydro says the hardest hit areas have been Mission and Abbotsford.

“Difficult and dangerous conditions – icy roads, poor visibility, and falling trees – and extensive damage have created challenges for crews,” BC Hydro said in a statement.

Crews from the Southern Interior have been brought to the Lower Mainland to assist, and 82,000 homes have had their power restored.

“Shoutout to BC Hydro, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, construction workers etc. for the bravery of staying out in the freezing cold to get the power back on! U can do it Hydro,” wrote Samantha Knight on Twitter from Abbotsford.

Others on social media were less positive about BC Hydro's response.

“15 hours now. No power. No crew on site. No sign when we will have power. Kids, hubby and I freezing. Food spoiled,” wrote Kristie Pavle in Mission. “So upsetting. We are cold.”

BC Hydro is reminding those who find a downed power line to stay back at least 10 metres and to call 911. 

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