One of five generators powered more than 400 homes at Breakaway Bays mobile-home park Tuesday

Power’s back on for cold seniors in South Surrey

Portable generators were powered up late Monday evening to provide heat to the hundreds who live at Breakaway Bays mobile-home park.

Power has returned to Breakaway Bays.

Lights were on again and heater fans were starting to warm up units at the mobile home park Tuesday morning, after portable generators were brought in Monday afternoon.

Phil Kowalski, who identified himself as a consultant working with park management, said Tuesday that five generators were providing power to all of the more than 400 homes at the site, where power service to the largely senior population had been only scattered and sporadic since Saturday morning.

“They were on as of last night,” he said. “The last one was fired up about 10 p.m.”

BC Hydro crews had told residents Saturday the problem was not a result of an interruption to their lines.

Kowalski said generators would continue to provide service until crews are able to find and repair the source of the on-site outage.

“We don’t know how long that will take, not at this stage. We can’t do everything all at once.”

Resident Shirley Sobchak, 79, said it seemed as though the lights just turned on when she and her husband returned to their home at 10 a.m. Tuesday after a night at the Pacific Inn.

She said she was looking forward to making some coffee and a slice of toast at home for the first time in three days.

Barbara Dyment said power came on early Tuesday morning in the home of her father, Jim Knights, 93.

Dyment said that although management had promised electrical service would be on by Monday night, many residents had opted to go elsewhere rather than take the chance of spending another night in their homes at sub-zero temperatures.

“Most of the residents had to leave the park – it was just too cold. They went to family or to motels,” she said.

“I went to three different places before we got in (at Pacific Inn) and they all had people there from Breakaway Bays,” Sobchak added.

Rick Hermekens was another who spent the night away from home.

“They told us last night they were going to have power,” he told the Peace Arch News before returning Tuesday morning.

“There was one generator sitting on my street at about 8 p.m., with nobody around to connect it.”

Hermekens said, however, that residents had been checking on each other and he was not aware any serious problems with the more aged and infirm among them.

“It’s an inconvenience. People are stuck. They can’t cook. But there is no reason for people to be cold. The clubhouse (which had its own source of power) is open 24 hours a day.”

Hermekens said that while generators will solve the problem in the short term, he understood some of the challenges facing Breakaway Bays management in finding a long-term solution.

Part of the problem, residents said, is aging infrastructure for which records of original installation are no longer available.

“The place is 40 years old, and all the cables are underground,” he said. “The electricians are working at trying to locate the (system) covers.”

As the Breakaway Bays units are manufactured homes, they are covered by the BC Residential Tenancy Act.

Ministry of Housing officials confirmed through MLA Gordon Hogg’s office that residents can make claims for damages or alternative housing costs through the Residential Tenancy branch and claim forms are available online.

 

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