Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Historic storm knocks out power to region, leaves two dead

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 8:21 AM

click to enlarge A Spokane firefighter begins the work of cutting up a fallen tree at S Regal St and E 17th Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
Young Kwak
A Spokane firefighter begins the work of cutting up a fallen tree at S Regal St and E 17th Ave.

The sun is up, and the precise damage from last night's historic windstorm is still being assessed. So far, two deaths and record-breaking power outages have been attributed to the storm.

• Schools and universities across the region — including Gonzaga, Eastern, WSU in Pullman and Whitworth — are closed today. A few have pushed back start times. KXLY has a list here.

• The city of Spokane reminds property owners to report downed trees. Call 625-7733. The city shared a list of certified arborists.

• Avista has a map of outages across the region. The utility recommends the following steps during an outage:
  • Turn off all the appliances that were on before the power went out.
  • Unplug electronic equipment, including computers.
  • Leave a light or radio on as an alert when power has been restored.
  • Help Avista crews working in a neighborhood know which homes have power by turning on the front porch light
  • If you see a downed power line, stay away. Treat all power lines as if they are carrying electrical current, and never touch or move one.
  • Do not wire an emergency generator into a home’s electrical system, unless there is a disconnect switch to separate generated power from Avista’s distribution system. Backfeed into power lines could injure or kill a lineman working to get electricity restored.
  • Use a generator only to run specific appliances and locate it outside so poisonous carbon monoxide fumes do not enter the home.
• UPDATE: Kootenai Electric says some customers could be powerless for days, even weeks. (KREM)

• UPDATE: Avista issued a message at 8 am this morning: 
We know it is frustrating, but at this time we cannot give estimated restoration times for specific locations.

With the light of day, 25 assessor crews in Spokane alone can now be able to safely visually inspect the damage caused by the storm.

This assessment should help us better understand the extent of damage and prioritize continued restoration efforts.

At the height of storm, more than 180,000 Avista customers were without power, that’s nearly half of our electric customers. Overnight progress was limited because of safety issues working in the dark as the storm continued to move through our region.

Customers are encouraged to initiate their emergency plan. If you need help, please seek it. If you need a warming shelter, please contact the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul or similar agency.

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About The Author

Jacob H. Fries

Jacob H. Fries is the editor of the Inlander. In that position, he oversees editorial coverage of the paper and occasionally contributes his own writing. Before joining the paper, he wrote for numerous publications, including the Tampa Bay Times, the Boston Globe and the New York Times. He grew up in Spokane Valley...