Emergency Social Services volunteers post the Coldstream Women’s Institute as the reception location for evacuees out of Lavington Thursday during a major gas leak.

Emergency sparks co-operative effort

Lavington residents were provided with a lot of warmth as a natural gas rupture forced them out of their homes

Lavington residents were provided with a lot of warmth as a natural gas rupture forced them out of their homes.

Emergency social service volunteers rallied around those who had to evacuate after a vehicle struck a high-pressure gas main on Highway 6 Thursday morning.

“They did a beautiful job,” said Helen Sinclair, with North Okanagan Emergency Management, of the volunteers at the reception centre at the Coldstream Women’s Institute Hall.

Food was available as were crafts for the children, and when it was discovered that an evacuee was celebrating his birthday, a volunteer went out and brought back a cake.

Evacuees were also provided with access to hotel rooms as day turned into night.

“People were understanding and calm in light of the situation because there were no answers to give them,” said Sinclair.

“We didn’t know when they would go home.”

About 200 people registered with NOEM, but the number of residents impacted is unknown.

“Some were on their way home from work and learned they couldn’t go home so they turned around to stay with family or friends,” said Sinclair.

The evacuation order was lifted at 9:40 p.m. Thursday.

But the impact of the gas break carried over into the weekend as natural gas to 1,200 Lumby residents had to be shut off while repairs were made.

A warming station was set up at the White Valley Community Centre for residents who were concerned that their homes were getting too cold.

As of Friday morning, no one had used the station.

“Our intention is to maintain it during the day, then assess things into the afternoon and determine whether to keep it available overnight,” said Jeremy Sundin, with the Village of Lumby, Friday.

If the need for the warming station continues during the weekend, Sinclair says NOEM volunteers will be available to provide assistance.

Even with repairs to the gas main completed Friday morning, it was expected that full service wouldn’t resume for some time as Fortis technicians visit customers to relight gas appliances.

“We anticipate this will be complete by Saturday evening,” said Michael Allison, Fortis spokesperson.

“In order to speed the restoration, we’ve brought in natural gas technicians from around our service territory to assist with reactivating the system and relighting customers’ appliances.”

Because of the lack of natural gas, classes were closed at Charles Bloom Secondary and J.W. Inglis Elementary Friday.


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