The arctic front that has the whole of British Columbia in its grip has caused road chaos, left thousands without power and is especially tough on the homeless.

The different regions have a variety of needs and problems during the cold snap.

In Vancouver it has been a frantic rush to get vulnerable homeless people off the streets.

The First United Church, one of 11 emergency shelters opening to the homeless, was given $40,000 in funding to become an all-night temporary shelter and was opening its doors to was allow people to sleep in its pews.

"The doors opened at 7 a.m. and by about 7:30 we had about 117 people sleeping in the pews. So there certainly has been an increase in need as the weather has changed," said Sandra Severs of the First United Church.

The doors were also open at the Union Gospel Mission, where an extra 25 beds were put on. The Mission said no one would be turned away.

"We don't want to turn a single person away, So we'll open up some classrooms, We have our chapel where we put out emergency beds, so we'll be able to sleep about 60 people," said Bill Mollard, president of the Union Gospel Mission.

City officials and volunteers were also on the streets on Monday night looking for vulnerable homeless people.

Grant Gayman of the Greater Vancouver Shelter Strategy said police cruisers were full of donated blankets that were being handed out to people on the streets.

The city can't legally force homeless people into a shelter during an extreme weather alert but Vancouver's mayor, Gregor Robertson, wants outreach workers to be more pro-active.

"It's perilous if anyone falls asleep outside at -17. Some of them aren't going to wake up," he said.

But for some, it's a tough sell to convince some to come off the streets.

Nathan George says he'd rather stay out on the streets, despite the dangers, and he will make the final decision.

"The few last nights haven't been too bad, I have enough to stay warm," he said. "It's day to day I can't say what's going to happen tomorrow."

There are several reasons why a homeless person might not seek shelter in this weather, said workers, including drug addiction, mental illness or they may simply have a pet that they don't want left out in the cold.

Vancouver Island hit hard

On Vancouver Island there were scenes that looked more in place on the Prairies than on the west coast. Normally, the temperature in Victoria at this time of year is about seven degrees. But today, with the windchill, it's about -18. And the arctic air is expected to stay all week

Tourists and locals bundled up, and city crews had gone through about 200 tonnes of salt in under 48 hours, and more ordered.

Drivers were still having problems with sliding on ice

"It seems as soon as we clear the snow off it is drifting back on and with the salt flying right off as well, it's an ongoing challenge," said Katie Josephson of the City of Victoria.

Jen Brook, the city's Extreme Weather Shelter Co-ordinator, said it was the worst she's seen, and they have opened 400 beds to the homeless.

"It's absolutely horrible, the wind is biting. So there should be no reason that anybody stays out on the streets tonight," she said. "Absolutely not. If they're coming in to look for a bed, we will provide them a bed."

Windy Fraser Valley

Winds were the problem in the Fraser Valley, with gusts of up to 100 km per hour recorded in Agassiz and wind chill taking the temperature to around -17.

The almost hurricane-force winds knocked out power for around 23,000 thousand homes and closed highways after power lines where knocked down.

Frank Staiger of the Fraser River Fishing Lodge described conditions as "Hell on Earth."

"Heavy timber tables were getting moved on the deck. Barbecues went flying and roofs came off," he said.

"It is difficult to assess when people's power will be back on because of the nature of this. There are pockets that are out and once we repair that someone may have their power knocked out somewhere else," said Dag Sharman of B.C. Hydro.

And while flights at Abbotsford International Airport were not delayed, some buildings sustained wind damage.

With reports from CTV British Columbia's Jina You, Bill Beatty and Julia Foy.