It usually takes Cloverdale’s Kristina Trotzuk about an hour to get home from work on Annacis Island.
On Tuesday, it took her more than 12.
“It was the most frustrating, stressful, scary situation I’ve ever been through,” she told the Now-Leader Wednesday morning after just a few hours sleep.
“It was just absolute chaos.”
Trotzuk left her work at 4:15 p.m. Two hours later, she had only made it to the Cliveden exit for Highway 91 – a 15-minute walk from her work. She could see that the Alex Fraser Bridge was a mess. It looked like a construction zone, with buses sideways and tow trucks.
At this point few cars, if any, were getting across the bridge. She decided to try the George Massey tunnel. The road going on Highway 99 had not been plowed or salted.
“It was like driving a mountain road, it was the freakiest thing ever,” she said.
At around 10:30 p.m., DriveBC reported the George Massey tunnel was closed southbound due to an accident, so she had to reroute again.
Trotzuk criss-crossed around Delta and Richmond for the next several hours, trying to find a clear route home. Most of the time, she was moving, even if it was at a snail’s pace, except when she was on the No. 5 road in Richmond trying to get on Stevenson Highway.
She recalls telling her husband Perry at 11:45 p.m. she should be home soon. The next thing she knew, it was 2 a.m., and she had not moved. Everywhere she looked, she could see cars in the ditch and spinning out.
For his part, Perry said it was a terrible feeling sitting at home not being able to help his wife.
“I was helpless with no way to help her out,” he said. “Makes me sick to my stomach.”
She then heard that Steveson Highway had closed. As she sat in gridlock traffic, she wondered what she should do. It felt like there was nowhere to go.
“Do I cry?”
A local radio station encouraged drivers to make their way to the Golden Ears Bridge. She found a different route that was clear. Within 40 minutes, she was jumping into her bed at 4:55 a.m.
Reflecting on last night’s experience, Trotzuk was emotional and called the whole experience was “surreal.” She has lived in the area her entire life and said she has never experienced anything like that before.
She said she believes cities could have done more to prepare for the snow.
“It was so unorganized,” she said.
The snowplows she saw had a hard time clearing the roads because they were full of gridlock traffic and abandoned cars.
Thankfully, Trotzuk had enough gas and a vehicle with all-wheel drive. But the experience taught her to be more prepared for next time – like making sure she has a warm coat in her car.
When the Now-Leader spoke to her on Wednesday (Nov. 30), she was on her way to work. This time, it only took her 35 minutes. The only people on the road today are the vehicles people abandoned last night during the storm, she said with a chuckle.
Trotzuk’s experience was not unique to her. More than 40 people commented on a Now-Leader Facebook post sharing their own experiences. Share your story on our Facebook page here.
Driving south on HWY 99 in the video near exit 4. A normally 50 minute commute from Vancouver to White took 3 hours 15 minutes. Was like traveling to Kamloops in the summertime minus the summer! pic.twitter.com/1Psc6N56D2
— kenny-g-unitz (@KennyUnitz) November 30, 2022