09/01/2015 03:26 EDT | Updated 09/01/2015 04:59 EDT

Cultus Lake Drivers Charged To Drive Through Soowahlie First Nation Reserve During Storm

The chief of a B.C. First Nation says that she regretted that a toll was charged to drivers trying to detour through the reserve after a major storm cut off a main route.

A powerful weekend windstorm ripped up trees, crushed vehicles and left half a million customers without power in southwestern British Columbia. At the peak of the storm Saturday, winds gusted between 80 and 100 km/h.

Toppled trees blocked the main route out of Cultus Lake, a recreation area near Chilliwack, B.C.

Soowahlie First Nation Chief Brenda Wallace said motorists paid a $20 toll to take the private road through the reserve, which usually is restricted by a locked gate on weekends.

But a long lineup of vehicles, frustrated drivers and flaring tempers soon developed, Wallace told The Chilliwack Progress.

Wallace was out of town during the situation, and has been dealing with the fallout from the unauthorized toll, including racist comments left at her home and on social media, reported the newspaper.

She said the band will not charge tolls in the future, but the storm drives home the need for a solid emergency strategy in the area.

In future, Wallace said drivers will be directed to a secondary route to and from the lake.

The $2,000 collected in tolls will be used for elder and children's programs on the reserve, said the Progress.

With files from HuffPost B.C.

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