Storm causes supply problems at groceries, gas stations

Storm causes supply problems at groceries, gas stations

Grocery stores and gas stations are running out after freezing rain, closed roads and canceled ferry crossings between the island and the mainland

The winter storm sweeping across southern BC has created supply problems for local grocery stores and gas stations.

Fairway Markets vice president Robert Jay said some suppliers had been proactive, sending groceries to Victoria ahead of the freezing rain on Thursday night.

“They let their drivers spend the night in Victoria. Some knew they wouldn’t make the ferry today. It’s part of life on the island,” Jay said. “We were fortunate to get some orders before the roads closed.”

Freezing rain closed roads and canceled ferry crossings between Vancouver and Victoria, Nanaimo and the southern Gulf Islands.

The grocery chain sources much of its goods — poultry, meat, perishables, dry goods — from the mainland, Jay said.

“It’s a stroke of luck. We’ll re-evaluate once we know the road conditions and ferries and see how things are set up.” He hopes customers will be patient and find an alternative if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

“If you can’t find the turkey you need for Christmas, maybe ham, maybe prime rib,” he suggested.

Victoria just doesn’t have the equipment to deal with winter storms, he said. “We’re not really ready for that. And it’s such a busy time and it adds even more stress.”

Still, Jay said he knows people look out for each other. “Helping others is one of the things in the Christmas spirit. People helping others, helping others, that’s a great thing. It comes out and it shines.”

Fairway Markets plans to close at 7pm today to allow staff to spend time with family and will reopen on Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, some gas stations have run out of gas and have put yellow tape around their pumps.

While the Esso station on Hillside Avenue has gas — after receiving a delivery Thursday — deliveries at nearby stations have been held up by ice and snow, the station manager said.

Even the weather keeps the plumbers on their toes.

“We’ve had a lot of frozen pipes before and expect a lot of calls now that it’s starting to thaw,” said Wade Roberts of emergency plumbing expert Wade Roberts Plumbing.

The pipes could have frozen and cracked, but the water might not spill out until the ice thaws a bit, he said.

“It was going to be a bit of a crazy weekend but obviously we’re hoping not because it’s Christmas and we don’t want to work too hard,” said Roberts, who posted a link on his Facebook page with instructions on how to clean street drains.

“That can be a big help. And if there are drains on your property in front of the garage or stairwell, [make] sure these things are open and free when it starts to rain [so] it can go down those drains,” he said.

Roberts said some of his employees couldn’t come into work Friday, but a couple of plumbers were on the road.

“It’s difficult. Some of the side streets are difficult to walk. We’ve pointed this out to our entire team, ‘If someone wants to take shifts.’ We’ll see, hopefully we can fix as many of these issues as possible.”

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