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Thousands without power across B.C., strong winds expected to continue: BC Hydro

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As B.C.'s first fall storm swept across the province Thursday, thousands were left without power, and some were warned they could remain that way overnight.

BC Hydro released an operational update Thursday afternoon saying the storm had left roughly 100,000 customers without power at some point during the day, and about 89,000 had already had their power restored as of 4:30 p.m.

"Crews have worked throughout the day to repair damaged power lines, poles and transformers," the utility said in its afternoon update.

"They have made great progress restoring power and will continue to work into the night and overnight. However, some small pockets of customers will be without power tonight, particularly in the North where damage is across the largest geographic region." 

BC Hydro said about 2,800 customers in the Lower Mainland were without power as of the 4:30 p.m. update. Meanwhile, around 3,000 in the northern part of the province were dealing with outages. Another 900 in the Central Interior, 3,100 in Thompson/Shuswap region and 900 on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands didn't have power either.

"The wind knocked down trees and branches causing them to come into contact with BC Hydro’s electrical equipment," the Crown corporation said in an earlier update.

"As a result, crews are busy repairing damaged power lines." 

B.C. Hydro's Susie Rieder told CTV News Vancouver the company's crews were prepared for the outages.

"We've had all hands on deck or meteorologists have been tracking this storm very carefully," she said. "We've called in some contractor crews as well as our own crews to be on standby in case of more outages. So we are fully prepared and we were warning customers to be prepared as well."

Much of the province was under Environment Canada wind or rainfall warnings Thursday. In Metro Vancouver, as much as 70 millimetres of rain could fall and winds could gust up to 80 km/h, especially near the Strait of Georgia. 

On Wednesday, BC Hydro warned in an advisory the recent drought could worsen conditions in the weeks ahead.

"Drought conditions have impacted the small structural roots that provide trees with stability, making them more susceptible to wind of any speed," the statement said.

Rieder said BC Hydro has been "stepping up" its vegetation management.

"What we're doing is inspecting trees and vegetation across the province and removing those trees that might pose a problem in in the event of a storm such as this one," she said.

British Columbians are encouraged to have an emergency kit with supplies to last for at least 72 hours, a flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, non-perishable foods and bottled water.

Anyone who sees a downed power line should always assume the line is live, stay back at least 10 metres and call 911. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Regan Hasegawa 

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