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Storm waves steal—then return—local woman’s deck

Not content to repeatedly derail the family’s travels, the weather went after them at home too

By Cameron Welch
December 27, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Storm waves steal—then return—local woman’s deck

Not content to repeatedly derail the family’s travels, the weather went after them at home too

By Cameron Welch
Dec 27, 2022
The free-floating deck, steps, and boat. All photos from Susan Ko
The free-floating deck, steps, and boat. All photos from Susan Ko
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Storm waves steal—then return—local woman’s deck

Not content to repeatedly derail the family’s travels, the weather went after them at home too

By Cameron Welch
December 27, 2022
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Storm waves steal—then return—local woman’s deck
The free-floating deck, steps, and boat. All photos from Susan Ko

At first Monday morning’s wild waves and winds were just something interesting to watch. Susan Ko was at home on the Saanich Peninsula in her own kitchen after a few cold days on the road. The weather was noisy in the morning, so she and her partner got up and had breakfast while it blustered outside.

They went out there around 8:30am to watch the water together, and noticed that the wooden bottom steps to the beach were gone.

“We’re like, ‘Oh, no, look, look’—and as we sit there, the whole deck and my boat and the stairs washed out.”

It wasn’t the first time the weather has thrown her a curveball during these holidays.

In the first Victoria snow storm, an awning she had left open smashed down and broke her windows. Ko and her partner dealt with that, and were meant to be headed south for a Christmas vacation. But the warm Vegas getaway never went further than chilly Seattle.

“In Seattle we were skating on ice, and everything was closed,” she said, but they felt lucky to not be flying out of even-worse Vancouver.

“Our flight’s still good,” they thought... but then it wasn’t.

Ko and her partner walk through icy Seattle streets

She told Capital Daily on Christmas Eve about their efforts to just get back to Victoria after the cancellation—first a seaplane also got cancelled, then a Greyhound up to Port Angeles and a Christmas morning ferry north.

They made it home—only to wake up to the deck debacle on Boxing Day.

The deck wavers in the waves, moments before detaching

Ko lives on the water north of Patricia Bay, on the Haro Strait. Environment Canada warned that this area would be struck by winds up to 90 km/h and flood-risk waves whipped up from what was already a king tide (an unofficial term for very high tides caused by a combination of the lunar cycle and local conditions). The weather knocked out power on Monday for more than 30,000 BC Hydro customers on the Island.

The escaped deck floats a few houses away

Ko said that even 12-foot cement supports had been broken in by the force of the storm and the debris it was throwing around. A big log that has been in the area for a long time became a battering ram in the forceful waves.

Cement supports broken by the force of the storm

Amid Monday’s swirling flotsam she could see other small boats that had come untethered from nearby docks. But her deck and rowboat weren’t among them.

“This afternoon [I] came back out and the deck had returned, in almost exactly the same spot.”

The stairs are detached (left) but the deck came back (right)

She can now at least salvage the same wood to build a new deck. Another storm surge was predicted for Tuesday, so she and her partner had to pivot to disaster-proofing. They took the deck apart and away—if left to float, it would just end up bashing the small boat house it was once attached to.

The boat, steps, and deck jostle in the waves

She’ll next need to figure out rebuilding, and chase after flight reimbursement. But despite everything, Ko said she still got a lot of enjoyment out of the holidays.

“We had an adventure; it just wasn't the adventure we expected.”

“Everybody that we talked to was lovely,” she said, from their taxi and bus drivers and servers in a funky Port Angeles restaurant. “Everything worked out. We were so lucky in so many ways. I guess, you’ve gotta weigh the good with the bad—we made butter out of cream.”

They may be in rough shape, but at least they’re not out at sea

Another bonus: being at home this weekend, instead of in Las Vegas, meant they were on scene for the deck destruction and were able to save the wood and protect the boat house from being destroyed too.

The storm problems that derailed her last week ended up being exactly what helped protect against the ones this week.

Ko with a previous version of the stairs, which have needed to be rebuilt three times in recent years due to extreme weather
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Cameron Welch
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