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By Al Sholund

On October 3, 1962, a tropical storm developed 500 miles off Wake Island in the north Pacific Ocean. The storm headed northeast, increasing in intensity as it bypassed the islands of Hawaii. On October 4, it reached typhoon status and was named Freda, as per storm-naming protocol. She reached intensity 3 on October 6 and 7 and died down to a tropical storm on October 8. By October 10, she was a tropical depression.

The winds in this tropical depression veered east and headed towards North America, reaching Victoria on October 12 with sustained wind speeds of 90 km/h and gusts reaching 145 km/h. These extreme winds continued on to the Lower Mainland, hitting Port Moody at about 4 p.m. The noise was frightening. At our home it sounded as if a jet plane was landing in the backyard. Strangely, above the roar of the wind, one could hear the distinctly sharp noise of alder trees snapping before falling to the ground. It sounded like machine gun fire. With a great number of trees falling all over the Lower Mainland, there was an almost instant power failure.

Most roads in wooded areas were closed. People had a terrible time getting home from work and from shopping. Power was off for four to five days. People had to depend on fireplaces, barbeques or Coleman stoves because the power was off for such a long period of time. Luckily, the temperature did not drop too low. Neighbours pitched in to help each other, especially those with young children. We loaned a Coleman lamp to Mr. Torvick so that he could keep his small grocery store operating (where the present Saint St. Grill is now located). It was the only store that had a supply of candles and they did not last long.

A great number of householders lost their wood or asphalt shingle roofing. Because of the ensuing shortage of shingles, many owners could not get matching colours and there were a lot of multi-coloured roofs for months. One unfortunate Port Moody resident who had replaced some shingles he had lost during a wind gust on October 11 lost all of his shingles on the 12th.

With the extremely high tide and strong winds a number of boats and boat houses on Port Moody's north shore were badly damaged. Industries all over the Lower Mainland were put out of action through damage or no power to operate.

Stanley Park in Vancouver had twenty percent of its majestic old growth trees blown down or so badly damaged that they had to be removed. It took months to get full access to the park.

Typhoon Freda's storm path from near the Philippine Sea to the B.C. coast was in excess of 5000 miles and took nine days. Freda claimed seven lives in the Lower Mainland and caused damage worth a staggering $500 million in 2003 dollars.

And I always thought of Freda as being a very gentle name!
Last updated: 03/10/2011 3:18:37 PM