This memo was sent to the RTA Fourum staff by Moderator Judy, who lives in Hoquiam, Washington earlier today:
Well, we're trying to survive the worst storm we've ever had in my memory. Probably eclipsing the Columbus Day Storm of 1963. We had hurricane winds....I think 80-90mph but I'm not real sure...for about 24 hours. Literally hundreds of trees are down including dozens of power poles that snapped off. Add to that, our major power from Bonneville Power Administration was cut off when three of their major power lines were also destroyed in the storm. They got one of these fixed last night.
90% of the people in Grays Harbor County were without power for 2 days. Most still don't have it. The only reason why we have it back on already is because they got power to the downtown core first so grocery stores and banks could re-open and so that the hospital could get fully electrified again as they were running on emergency power levels only. I sometimes yearn to live in the country but these are times when it's nice to be close to the key areas of downtown so we get our power back on first.
We're not used to two days without power in town. It's been interesting. Unfortunately, our chimney is cracked so we weren't able to burn a fire. With all the people without heat, we're lucky that it wasn't very cold. The storm brought in a Pineapple Express.
Most areas still don't have power and they figure it might take 5 days for the entire county to have it back up and running.
100% of the people in Pacific County just south of us are still without power. Bonneville doesn't think it will have the main powerline restored for them until sometime on Thursday.
The amount of downed trees is incredible. Many roads are blocked. Most of the roads are slowly getting re-opened but it's still not really safe to drive much and they're recommending people try to stay home.
Road Access Information:
In fact, until this morning, if you had to get out of town, you really had to take a strange route. So many trees and powerlines were down across the portion of Hwy 12 between Aberdeen and Montesano that the road was totally closed. So, to get from Aberdeen to Montesano, you had to drive south on 101 towards Raymond until the 107 cut-off could take you into Montesano. Then you could drive on Hwy 12 for awhile but had to veer off around Elma because trees were over the highway there. Then drive the Monte-Elma Road for awhile. Then back onto Hwy 12 until McCleary. At McCleary you needed to veer off the Hwy and take the Kamilche Cut-off toward Shelton where you would meet up with 101 and then be able to go into Olympia.
I believe Hwy 12 and Hwy 8 are open all the way to Olympia. Good thing because 107...the only route that was open from Aberdeen to Montesano...is now closed due to flooding. I understand a lot of the highway is only one lane open each way because they just cleared a path through the trees at this point.
My sister lives in Chehalis and they are locked in due to extensive flooding on I-5 through there. Traffic needs to go east of the mountains through Yakima to get from Seattle-Portland. But they do have power anyway. I just heard on the news that it's still 7 feet deep over the freeway at Chehalis. Yikes!
Lake Quinault is still cut-off from town and they hope to get the trees cleared off that highway by the end of the day today.
A lot of the county roads are still closed. My husband spent yesterday with his chainsaw helping clear a long, private road where a lot of senior citizens live so they could get in-and-out if needed.
County road crews are swamped. PUD crews, too. Both have called into other places for extra crews but this storm has hit so many places that extra crews are hard to find. Until today, it was pretty tough for them to even get here.
One of our favorite restaurants, a little BBQ place that has won numerous regional awards was totally destroyed by a mudslide. It was almost to Olympia on Hwy 12.
We've had at least two weather-related deaths. A man that was helping clear trees off of a blocked road was hit by a falling tree. And another man died when he lost power because he needed to breath with an oxygen machine and didn't have any back-up power.
A PUD lineman was seriously injured when they were up in their bucket trying to repair a line and a tree fell on the bucket causing him to fall 40 feet to the ground. Helicopters couldn't come in at that time due to the wind so they had to drive him to Harborview in an ambulance. Unfortunately, the going was slow because they had to get out and cut away a path through the fallen trees to get him out of here. I haven't heard an update on his status.
More flooding is predicted for later today when the river will crest. There are predicting as much as a foot or two of water in downtown Aberdeen. Hoquiam normally doesn't flood....we have a far superior drainage system....so, hopefully, we won't have to deal with that, too. Many people in outlying areas have been emergency rescued due to flooding. And those who live in flood areas who aren't flooded yet are urged to get themselves out before an emergency rescue is required.
Anyway, it's been a heckuva interesting few days. I caught up on sleep and some reading by lantern. It was kinda like camping.
The only holes in our emergency set-up were minimal. We had neglected to stock up on propane bottles and to make sure we had a full larger propane bottle for the BBQ after summer got over. So we had 3 partially empty of the smaller propane bottles and a partially empty bigger one on our BBQ. Since they were originally saying it might be as much as 5 days until we got power back, we were hesitant to use the propane for cooking and light unless it was really needed. So we used candles and our battery-operated lanterns as much as possible. And our dynamo flashlights and radios (batteries not needed, just cranking). So, no big deal except we didn't have bread for sandwiches. That would have been nice since we didn't want to cook. Anyway, note to selves....always keep extra propane bottles and some bread in the freezer. With just those items, we would have been totally fine with no complaints at all.
We also have never invested in a generator because, since we live in town, we are rarely without power for longer than about 4-5 hours. We were getting worried about our freezer. We had just bought about 250# of grain-fed, free-range beef a few weeks ago and hated to lose it. Plus the salmon and clams and venison. This is where good neighbors come in. A new neighbor had a generator and let various neighbors use it for a couple of hours yesterday. We ran cords to our freezer and refrigerator for about 2 hours to get these cold again. So, luckily, we didn't lose anything. Nice neighbor! We will have to owe him a dinner or some nice gift for his kindness.
Anyway, we now think a generator might be a wise investment in case this ever happens again. We've just never been hit this hard before.
Our newspaper put out very small, limited page newspapers. The story of how they were able to get it out is quite interesting. If you're interested in some more details of the storm and the interesting story of how they got the newspaper out, you might check out the website. If you can find the photo of the BPA powerline that was down, it is pretty amazing. The steel is twisted like a pretzel.
Anyway, I'll quit boring you with my little tale. It just goes to show that we all need to be prepared for most anything.