The Latest: About 40000 without power in western Washington

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At least 5,000 not expected to have power by Thanksgiving.

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Thousands of households in Washington’s second-largest city were surviving without electricity nearly a week after a wind storm ripped apart power lines, trees and the electrical grid. Alice Niemeirer, left, stands outside her home on 22 nd Avenue with friend Verna Eucker as linemen repair damaged equipment and wires that have left the home dark for eight days. Governor Jay Inslee planned to meet with local leaders Tuesday as about 20,000 customers in Spokane County have been living without heat and light amid subfreezing temperatures since Nov. 17.

Despite the cold, food she bought for Thanksgiving spoiled and she called off dinner with relatives who planned to travel from western Washington for the holiday. Jay Inslee visited Spokane Tuesday to inspect damage from the worst windstorm in the region’s history, promising to explore whether Spokane County qualifies for federal disaster assistance.

Inslee, meanwhile, is asking for the state to keep the Inland Northwest in the forefront of their mind, especially those who may be left in the dark on Thanksgiving.. “In our household and I know many households across the state we’ll be having a lot to be thanks for this Thursday and that is going to be thanks for the inland strong people of Spokane County,” he said. Mayor David Condon said about 200 people were using city emergency shelters each night, but most people still without power were staying with family, friends or in hotels in this county of 490,000. Avista Corp., the region’s largest utility, has been working around the clock, but up to 5,000 customers may still lack electricity by Wednesday night, chairman Scott Morris said. Conditions got worsen when about an inch of snow fell throughout the area Monday night and temperatures dropped to 29 degrees, National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Fugazzi said.

The forecast calls for more snow, with temperatures dropping into the low 20s and strong winds that will make it feel even colder on Wednesday and Thursday, said Fugazzi, who is one of those still lacking electricity. While power has been restored to most schools, the district decided to cancel classes all week for 29,000 students because downed power lines and trees blocking sidewalks where children walk pose a danger.

On a stretch of 22nd Avenue between Bernard and Browne streets, a line crew had to climb over and through bushes, retaining walls and fences in backyards to reach downed trees, sagging powerlines and damaged poles. Best friends Alice Niemeier and Verna Eucker arrived at Niemeier’s home on 22nd Avenue and clasped their hands at the sight of the line crew hired by Avista to make repairs. Most of the remaining households without power are in locations where the electric grid had the most damage and were the most difficult to repair, Morris said.

Alice fetched a Corningware dish of casserole from the freezer of her tidy home and said they intended to reheat it for dinner Tuesday night at another home where they are staying. A homeowner on Sound Avenue named Martha, who declined to give her last name, brought cupcakes to a crew from Sturgeon Electric of Oregon to say thanks for returning power to her home. He urged continued patience in the coming days and asked those without power, but who have neighbors whose lights are back on, to report their outage to Avista by phone at 1-800-227-9187. Inland Power and Light reported all but 350 of their customers had power restored by Tuesday morning, as the winter’s first significant snow fell on Spokane County. Inslee praised the local response to the storm, which killed two women and left more than 200,000 customers of various utilities without power across the region last week.

A request for assistance to individual homeowners of this summer’s catastrophic wildfires was rejected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this fall. Next door, Aaron Randall, an employee of A+ Garage Door, has been opening damaged doors and replacing automatic openers that were damaged or were preventing people from accessing their garages.

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