West Seattle, Washington
In the Friday P-I, testy talk turns to whether trees close to power lines were adequately trimmed pre-storm. Elsewhere in the P-I, guest columnist Brenda Peterson, an Alki writer, muses about various aspects of powerlessness, including one we noticed and appreciated as well … how bright the stars seemed, on those streetlight-free nights. Small blessings.
That stretch on and near Fauntleroy, southwest of Morgan Junction, is still out, and now the City Light contingent is gone. One more pocket-let further east appears to be back, though — we just saw outdoor lights on at some of the Webster homes whose residents had been checking in with us (hope it’s good news for ALL of you). Another late-night note: Even if all’s well with your power supply, the city now wants to hear from you about damage to street signs and traffic lights. The phone numbers are here (though, oddly, no e-mail address or web form, which would seem more useful).
About 1,000 City Light “customers” got their power back today, according to a 5 pm radio report that puts the total number remaining at 3,200, and we just confirmed that at least two WS pockets are finally back — 57th off Alki, and that south section of Beach Drive. Passed two major deployments of City Light crews — one at the Beach Drive spot where a tree had blocked the road, the other on the Fauntleroy curve just southwest of Morgan Junction (we never did get around to putting up our weekend photo of crews taking on the tree that caused so much trouble there, so it’s below this post). One troubling spot where no progress is apparent — Delridge at Orchard; two gas stations and a few other businesses still dark, along with homes around them (north of there, Delridge/Brandon is still out too). One last note — a reader who wrote to Councilman Richard Conlin, who heads the committee that’s in charge of utilities, was told that besides the council meeting with City Light and others tomorrow morning, Conlin also is promising a public hearing on Jan. 3.
Commenting on a post below, a reader asks a question that also occurred to us while checking out the “Webster pocket” earlier — what happened to the
cow bull atop John’s Deli at 35th/Webster? Storm casualty, put away for safekeeping, or … ? If nobody out there knows, we’ll check. In the meantime, heading out for our early-evening pocket survey (even after so many years up north, it’s still weird to call 4:40 pm “early evening”).
Pounding rain, dark sky. Hours after a sunshine break. Only quarter till 4 and it’s almost dark enough to get a status check on the remaining WS pockets. No update on the City Light site since this morning. But another gov’t agency, the National Weather Service, wants your help … choosing a name for the storm. (Wind Wallop? Holiday Hell?) And in government-leader news, heard a radio report that Gov. Gregoire and County Exec Sims toured powerless Eastside spots today. Her home page currently headlines a “weather update”; his home page has one high up (but the headline story is still him getting an award); still waiting for word on the status of our mayor, whose page is topped with “emergency preparedness tips.”
-As of a few minutes ago: 2 City Light trucks still working at the Morgan Substation, same number at 31st/Kenyon (can only hope that’s good news for the “Webster pocket” nearby).
-If you are in any mood to attempt to laugh about this whole mess (heaven knows WE weren’t until after yesterday’s re-outage), Seattlest points us all to a drily amusing YouTube clip (note the apparent backstory about some people pretending to blame all evils on the recent Google/YouTube, aka GooTube, deal). Subsequently checking YouTube, we found more attempts at outage-related humor, such as this brief bit about the terror of techlessness.
Here’s what we saw: City Light truck briefly stopping on Webster, east of 35th; no crews seen in or around the Fauntleroy/Raymond pocket; a City Light crew parked briefly on Cali near Thriftway, sipping coffee and looking world-weary; plenty of activity near the Alki pocket (along 57th), where we snapped some of the out-of-town crews hired to help City Light (this one is from WAY out of town, note the locale scrawled on the truck’s side):
City Light’s latest online update, timestamped 10 am, says 4,900 customers are still out, 99% of the system is in service, and “the majority of City Light customers will be restored … by midnight.” Well, if you want to be technical about it, the “majority” has been restored for a long time (given a majority is anything past 50%). A reader in the Fauntleroy/Raymond pocket reports being told 17 crews are “in the area” working; we’re going to go see who we find where. One other interesting reader comment this morning, in response to questions about why the mayor hasn’t been making public statements — a reader claims the mayor’s reportedly “been ill.” If anyone knows that for sure, send us a note and we’ll keep it anonymous (which we do anyway with e-mail, as opposed to comments right on the blog, which are automatically anonymous if you choose not to “sign” your name); would love to know why he hasn’t been out in the still-out neighborhoods.
Fascinating tidbits in today’s papers revealing some factors in the slow restoration of power:
–This P-I article says Seattle City Light hadn’t done a fullscale drill (for this type of giant outage) in three years, though the reporter writes, “ironically, one was planned for today.” Really? Four days before Christmas? Same article mentions that the City Council and Seattle City Light bosses have a meeting Friday to start scrutinizing how things worked (and didn’t). Want to let the council know ahead of time what you think? Here’s how.
-Buried in this Times story is an even more revealing tidbit, highlighted below. (So will that change now? Maybe not, as later in the article, the SCL person bemoans the utility’s failure to “outsource” the way Puget Sound Energy does. Though SCL’s apparently “transforming.”)
When the storm struck, about 30 of Seattle City Light’s lineman positions were vacant, largely because of tight budgets, said Chris Heimgartner, the utility’s director of transmission and supply. That’s equivalent to a quarter of the utility’s 28 four-man crews.
A little breezy out there, but nothing close to windstorm quality. Meanwhile, a little bit of driving on the south end of West Seattle reveals that power crews had some success overnight: Morgan Junction is energized again (Ladro, Tully’s, Starbucks, Thriftway, the works, all are lit and open); the iight at 35th/Morgan is back in business; even looks like one of those “laterals” on Gatewood Hill just southeast of Thriftway may have gotten its power back in the process. A stretch of Fauntleroy southwest of M-Junction is still lights-out, though. No sign of any major overnight wind except recycling tubs rolling around on G-Hill.