Residents and businesses were assessing the damage Tuesday after a “rogue” storm swept through Parksville Monday night, packing with it record amounts of rain and knocking out power to thousands of people.
A rain gauge in Community Park recorded 33 mm in 18 minutes around 8 p.m., said Parksville Fire Chief Doug Banks. Reports from neighbouring communities suggested the storm narrowly focused on Parksville.
Banks, who has been fire chief for 24 years and has lived in the area his entire life, said the storm was the worst he’s ever seen. “I can’t ever remember getting more rain in such a short amount of time.”
Parksville communications officer Debbie Tardiff said the storm sewers are built for a 100-year storm, which the rain surpassed in a short burst Monday evening.
There were numerous reports of trees down, resulting in localized power outages including specific incidents on Industrial Way, Pioneer Crescent, Mills Road and at Parksville Chrysler where a tree fell on a car. There were other reports of damage to businesses — including Harris Oceanside Chevrolet — but there are no dollar estimates yet of total damage in the city.
Power was interrupted at the new Oceanside Health Centre, but there were no lines down.
The water overflowed the storm drain capacity, backing up and flooding some basements and businesses.
City hall and the fire department were not spared, both receiving less than 25 mm of water in low parts of the buildings when drains were overwhelmed.
Tardiff said the administration and former MLA offices require a lot of clean up and drying, but neither city property sustained serious damage.
Banks confirmed there were some alarms triggered but no fires or injuries reported.
Environment Canada’s David Jones said weather gauges in nearby locations reported much smaller amounts of rain, including one in Parksville that registered 5.6 mm in an hour around 8 p.m. and one in the city works yard in Nanaimo (1.2 mm).
Jones said the 33 mm registered in that one hour Monday night in Parksville represents a “tropical or even super-tropical” rainfall rate.
“It’s good example of a localized rain shower . . . extraordinary for sure . . . a rogue storm,” said Jones.
BC Hydro customers felt the impact of the storm, with power going out in a wide swath across the area.
BC Hydro communications officer Karla Louwers said about 4,000 customers found themselves without power at the peak of the storm.
“It was a wild one,” she said. “We had power out in various areas, including Nanoose Bay, Errington and the city as well.”
The majority of the outages took place between 8 and 10 p.m.
“That’s a significant number of people without power,” she said. “That’s before our typical start of storm season, which normally starts in late October.”
All the outages, she added, came as a result of either branches or whole trees falling across power lines.
— NEWS Staff