This B.C. island hit hard by storms plans ‘thank you’ event to honour Hydro crews

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As a final handful of customers on British Columbia’s southern Gulf Islands await the return of electricity following a windstorm more than 10 days ago, residents of one hard-hit island are making plans to say thank you.

Salt Spring Island/Shutterstock

Salt Spring Island residents Kathryn Anderson and Dan Olson decided to start 2019 with an event thanking the hundreds of BC Hydro employees, first responders and community members who worked tirelessly during the crisis.

The storm left more than 700,000 customers in B.C. without power and Salt Spring endured some of the most severe damage, so Anderson says when the plan for an appreciation brunch on New Year’s Day was posted on social media “it just became a firestorm.”

In less than a week, she says businesses have donated food and space for the gathering while residents are organizing everything from a silent auction to a project aimed at weaving branches from fallen trees into a huge memorial wreath.

Most of the BC Hydro crews left Salt Spring as power was restored over the weekend, but Anderson says all who remain have been personally invited to the brunch while the ceremony will also be livestreamed so departed crews can tune in, if they wish.

Anderson says the storm’s legacy leaves an awareness that much must be done to prepare for future catastrophes, such as an earthquake, but it has also turned strangers into friends and helped unite the island’s roughly 11,000 residents.