I wasnt "here" yet, but some were....
The day ferocious Freda visited Victoria
On Oct. 12, 1962, a typhoon smacked Vancouver Island - the only typhoon ever recorded here
Ron Armstrong Special to Times Colonist April 24, 2005
Forest fires, floods and tsunamis -- in Southeast Asia or B.C. -- remind us of nature's fury. But only once in recorded history has our province been struck by a full-fledged typhoon.
On Oct. 3, 1962, a tropical depression developed 800 kilometres off Wake Island in the western Pacific. It headed northeast, bypassing Hawaii. The next day, the storm intensified and was designated Typhoon Freda. Peaking on Oct. 8, it diminished and was labelled a tropical depression.
The storm then veered toward North America and inexplicably gained strength. Freda was again a typhoon, some 50 kilometres off northern California.
Her arrival in Victoria was heralded Friday, Oct. 11, by a southeast gale. The 45-foot workboat Chatham Chief was ripped from her moorings at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and driven high and dry on Cadboro Bay beach.
The next victims were deep sea freighters off the west coast of the Island. Both Waihemo and Anthony B reported 40-foot (12-metre) waves off Cape Beale and the latter lost part of her deck load of lumber.
Freda struck Greater Victoria full force at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, with winds of 110 km/h gusting to 150 km/h. Trees toppled from Sooke to Sidney, bringing down power and telephone lines. The most spectacular damage was to a giant Martin Mars water bomber owned by the fledgling Flying Firefighters Ltd. The 45-ton Caroline Mars, despite being shackled to concrete blocks by eight 1.25-centimetre steel cables, was dragged 300 metres across the tarmac and grass, destroying her port undercarriage.
Less dramatic but just as bizarre was the carport roof that tore loose from a home in View Royal and "kited" into the air, then came to land on a neighbouring house.
Canadian Pacific Telegraph's circuit to the mainland was knocked out, which meant Canadian Press wire service and Broadcast News service to radio stations was cut off. CJVI took a direct hit and was off the air for two hours.
Two large display windows of Eaton's department store shattered, spilling Christmas toys on to Douglas and View streets. Harold Hesketh's 25-foot cabin cruiser broke loose from its Brentwood Bay dock and was blown away, despite the best efforts of the Gilbert brothers. The grand old oak tree at Woodwyn Farm in Central Saanich was uprooted and crashed into the adjacent barn, shifting it an inch. Only the loft hay saved the beef cattle inside. St. Joseph's Hospital (predecessor to the first Victoria General) went black for 20 minutes before emergency power was restored.
The only local death recorded was that of fisherman To****azu Koyama, 43, of Miner's Bay, Mayne Island. He set out in his skiff Friday night to check on his anchored gillnetter. The capsized skiff was found later but his body was never found, despite an extensive search by RCMP boats and divers.
Freda, however, provided the first big test to two new provincial Crown corporations. B.C. Hydro and Power Authority was created only four years earlier by Premier W.A.C. Bennett ("Socialism if necessary but not necessarily socialism") with the merger of the B.C. Power Commission and the B.C. Electric Co. Ltd.
Officials denied that "there were fewer linemen to cope with the local damage than when BCE was the distributor." In fact, a crew of 50 were on the job with another 70 on call, some from Duncan. Another official said, "the merger of the B.C. Electric with the B.C. Power Commission into a single power authority actually speeded up repairs." Hydro co-chairman Hugh Keenleyside stated the storm damage "was the worst ever encountered by either [agency]" and he had "high praise for the efficiency of personnel."
As for the other Bennett creation, B.C. Toll Authority Ferries wasn't challenged as much. Ferries from the mainland were due to arrive at Swartz Bay Friday night at 10:40 p.m. and 11:40 p.m., but the gale delayed their arrival by two hours.
As they slowed to approach their slips, the wind took over, attempting to blow the vessels off course. Prudence ruled and the long-suffering passengers had to wait out the gale. Eventually both ships docked. However, when Freda roared in Saturday, all sailings were cancelled and not resumed until late Sunday.
B.C. Telephone was hard hit as well. Circuits were knocked out from Sooke to Ten Mile Point and from James Bay to Cobble Hill as well as the Gulf Islands. As happens in times of crisis, people respond to other's needs.
Central Saanich volunteer firemen were double heroes. Since all the Peninsula wells used electric pumps, the men used a tank truck to supply a Mt. Newton rest home. They also hooked a lighting unit to a pump at a Derringberg Road chicken farm to provide water for hundreds of chicks that had gone without for eight hours.
Most power and phone lines were working by Oct. 15, but some Gulf Islands were still waiting for phone service after that.
The total Island and Vancouver area impact was $10,500,000 in damage and six deaths.
South of the border, in Oregon and Washington, where Freda was known as "The Columbus Day Storm," there was far more damage and 21 deaths. But for Victoria residents and service providers, one "typhoon taste" was enough.
Ron Armstrong lives in Victoria.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
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04-28-2005, 03:43 PM #1
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04-28-2005, 05:31 PM #2
WOW...Would never have guessed Sort of like snow in the Bahama's ('77 I think)Fire Marshal/Safety Officer
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