On 20 December 2018, just days before the Christmas holidays, a severe windstorm hit the south coast of British Columbia. The storm caused an unprecedented amount of damage to the electricity infrastructure of BC Hydro, B.C.’s primary electricity provider. A record number of customers lost power.
BC Hydro’s response to the storm required the biggest mobilization of people, equipment and material in the company’s over 50-year history.
Within hours, our emergency response protocols were activated and we were in full crisis response mode. Our call centre was flooded with calls, we received thousands of inquiries on our social media channels, and major and local media outlets were calling for updates every few minutes.
We knew from our past experience with moderate storms in recent years that our storm response communication plan worked well and generally resulted in a positive net increase in our customers’ favorability towards us. However, because of the extent of damage caused by this storm, we knew early on that this experience was going to be different and we were looking at a multi-day event. Drawing on past experience, we recognized the need to mobilize our communication team to get information out to our customers as quickly as possible across all channels, in order to stay out in front of the storm.