Friday, December 15, 2006

Windstorm in the Northwest

There were lots of amazing stories about immense wind damage and power outages for people numbering well over a million in the Northwest. I actually think that number was underreported since there were tens of thousands of residences and businesses without power in North Idaho alone that never made the national wires that I saw.

Regardless, it was an opportunity for me to see what local governments deal with in a crisis mode. The following is part of an email update that I received tonight about the state of affairs in our city alone after a storm of this magnitude.

Lots of activity and kudos to the many many staff people that were out and about tending to the damage here.

From Jon Ingalls: DAMAGE ASSESSMENT. Today's major wind storm brought a number of challenges to citizens and city staff. Some of the more significant city challenges and damage sites that I am aware of included (by department):

- Water: Numerous water wells were without power this morning, but Water staff quickly mobilized a plan for transfer of excess capacity from elsewhere in the city where power was still on. Status: As of 2pm, the Elm Street booster pump is without power and it in uncertain if Avista will have it back on line soon. This booster station is critical in serving Stanley Hill. However, Water has a generator in route from Spokane to power the booster station if necessary. All other water systems are fully operational.

- Wastewater: Six of our eight lift stations were without power this morning, and our access to one lift station in Indian Meadows was blocked by a downed power line. Wastewater worked with Avista to gain access to the Indian Meadows lift station, and they went door-to-door in efforts to ensure the lift station was restored before it reached a threatening level. Status: All lift stations are now fully operational.

- Fire: Fire responded to trees down in the Tamarack Mobile Home Park (the one north of Costco on Government Way) when downed trees damaged a number of trailer homes. Status: Fire is working with Red Cross to find alternative housing for displaced residents.

- Streets: Streets responded to about a dozen trees across the roads. Some of the locations with larger street trees and/or significant property damage included: 10th & Mullan, 6th & Spruce, 11th and Harrison, Government Way island, 3rd & Harrison, 3rd & Annie, Hubbard & College, and Garden & Lincoln. Perhaps as many as 8 cars were damaged or destroyed from falling trees. Also, numerous signals required resetting. Status: All streets open and passable.

- Parks: Parks responded to damage at 1) the City Park: one large pine tree down, one maple down and a street light pole downed, 2) Forest Cemetery: three large pines down damaging a street light pole and a fence and 3) trees downed over the Centennial Trail at Hubbard and Old Atlas Road (with fence damage). Also, Parks is assisting with clean up of several trees at the 4th Street and Wilbur well sites. Status: Tree clean-up continuing, trails clear, no imminent hazards remain.

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