West Seattle, Washington
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.
… Well, no, actually, flashlights are better than candles. We prefer ’em since a candle-sparked house fire in childhood. So we set out tonight to see if there are D batteries to be found anywhere in West Seattle. Our non-scientific sample revealed: NO. Not even at the Harbor Avenue 7-11, for heaven’s sake. Other notes from Power Patrol: Morgan Junction and environs remain dark (including Fauntleroy almost all the way to L-Park), and now the Fauntleroy/Cali traffic cop’s gone (just a commute thing?); and no juice yet to 57th Ave SW, from just south of Alki Ave all the way back to the bluff — apparently the northernmost powerless pocket in WS. This situation is painful for everyone affected, but tonight we’re feeling especially blue for the M-Junction businesses smacked by today’s re-outage, particularly the indies like Pet Elements, Teriyaki & Wok, Abbondanza, etc. Hope they’re back up by tomorrow. We’re planning to rise early to check on things, if tonight’s weather (starting to rustle the bushes even as we type) doesn’t keep us up.
Guess we weren’t the only ones thinking a traffic cop would be a good idea at Fauntleroy/Cali … one is on the job there now. Otherwise, no progress in the re-outage that’s epicentered just east of the intersection (see midday photo below) … not only is M-Junction dark, so is a significant stretch of Fauntleroy heading southwest from there, plus the big stretch of Beach Drive before and after the original tree blockage. Maybe the re-outage is why City Light’s outage total went up between the early afternoon and late afternoon updates (was 5,300, now 5,900). Some are starting to ask, now that this crisis (and for those without power, it IS a crisis) is almost a week old, where’s the mayor? Especially considering so many of those still without power are right here in his back yard?
But first, one bit of advice from us … avoid the Cali/Fauntleroy intersection (M-Junction) if you can till you hear the power’s back (and we promise to keep checking) … as the evening drive home approaches, things are getting ugly down there, with ferry traffic, etc., and no stoplights to moderate. (Really wish they’d send a police officer to help direct traffic.)
Now, as for City Light … their outage-update page has some interesting new suggestions, such as “things to check if your neighbor has power but you don’t.”Ã‚Â And both SCL and some WSB readers urge you to keep calling if your power’s still out, instead of assuming they’re on the case. 684-7400 is the outage-reporting number; 684-3000 is the number for reporting downed lines. City Light says a little over 5,000 “customers” are still out; sort of seems like they’re almost all here in WS.
Thriftway is open (with low lights again, as was the situation during Outage I), but nothing else in that vicinity (poignant little handwritten signs are tacked to most business doors); City Light crews are still working like mad in that blocklet along Morgan on the store’s north side. Also noticed that the re-outage is stretching directly east up Morgan – the light’s out at 35th/Morgan. Elsewhere – for the person who asked about 32nd/Thistle, no problems there, we saw outdoor lights along 32nd in the blocks on both side of Thistle. Some other folks are e-mailing to ask us about their areas; we’ll check them out as quick as we can.
Looks like about half the re-outage area is back on. Heading south on Cali, up the hill, the first sign of power was an outdoor light at Cali & Austin. Morgan Junction businesses, still out. To the east, 35th/Thistle light was back. Someone just left a comment wondering about 32nd/Thistle — when we head out again in a bit, we’ll check that out. And we’ll keep you updated on Morgan Junction, where the substation area is still cordoned off. Funny how this sort of thing changes your mindset; we’ve laughed in the past about suggestions that emergency-preparedness kits make great gifts … just heard that pitch again on the car radio, and now we’re not laughing. At all.
We left our old-school answering machine “on” at home as a way of testing remotely whether the power is back on … just called, it picked up, that could be good news for the Morgan Junction-and-southward re-outage; will pack up and go check in person now …
At an Alki coffeehouse now … apparently there is a powerless pocket near here too; we’ve heard at least three people talking about it, including the very nice gentleman who yielded his table to us (after seeing us wandering sadly around the place looking for an open power outlet).
Back in Morgan Junction and points southward, still no power as of when we left the house again just before 11:30 … that’s two hours re-outaged, and counting. Not sure how far south this stretches, but the 35th & Thistle stoplight is out, and to the north, we didn’t see signs of outagelessness till the first stoplight on Cali Ave north of Fauntleroy (Graham?).
Couple miscellaneous non-outage notes: The Starbucks drive-thru at 35th/Fauntleroy IS open (saw cars going thru as we took a convoluted route to Alki); and if you’re looking for Christmas cheer, there’s a note on the door of Spud Fish & Chips on Alki saying Santa will be visiting 2-4 pm today, tomorrow, and Friday. (Can we go ask Santa for a stable source of electricity, on behalf of all good little Western Washingtonians everywhere?)
We’re currently stationed in The Junction but a friend tells us that power lines are dangling near the Morgan Junction substation (just north of Thriftway), so that may be the culprit. City Light and the fire department are there.
… is, be sure you’re ready for anything tonight. The Weather Service says the wind could have some 40 mph gusts, which might be strong enough to bring down trees left weakened after last week’s Wind Wallop. (The Times sounds even more dire about the whole thing, mentioning possible 50 mph gusts.) We found firestarter logs this morning over at McClendon’s. So we’re set on that front. And given the apparent fragility of the whole power system, we’re darn glad we didn’t stock up on food once the original outage ended in our neighborhood Monday morning … there’s not much in there right now … come to think of it, we better go get a bag of ice just to protect what we DO have.
Just as we were finishing a post ruminating about the possible fragility of the power fixes in the face of the next storm … EVERYTHING WENT OUT AGAIN. Grabbed the laptop and headed out. No power in Morgan Junction; fire engines converging on Thriftway. Not sure what happened. We had seen City Light trucks in the vicinity of the Northrop sinkhole shortly before this … perhaps a planned outage to get somebody else on line? We can only hope? Stand by … sigh …
Did the ex-Rainier Roaster Starbucks drive-thru quietly open already? Haven’t been by in daylight in a few days; happened past it late last (Tues) night and noticed the reno work looked pretty darn done. Drove all around, didn’t see anything obvious like “NOW OPEN” or “OPENING (WHENEVER),” but the drive-up window even has hours posted (open @ 4:30 am weekdays, 5:30 am weekends). Called the number on its “coming soon” page on the Starbucks site; no answer. Will check it out tomorrow.
The posted hours, by the way, mentioned it’ll be closed Christmas. We’re going to find out which of WS’ many fine coffeehouses will be open at least for a while on Christmas, so we can post it here by Friday or so … in honor of all the Christmas mornings we’ve spent in desperate searches for the ol’ triple tall, wishing someone had collected that info somewhere.
One less pocket of powerlessness … the trucks we saw on Sullivan in Upper Fauntleroy a few hours ago seem to have achieved success; power to those houses is finally back on. Hope more pockets are on the brink of reconnection; we saw a crew working on Willow, a couple blocks west of Fauntleroy, but no sightings along the eerily dark stretch of 41st (and a few other streets) on the “real” Gatewood Hill, east and uphill from Morgan Junction.
Tonight our internet service is out for reasons unknown, so we’re doing the coffeehouse gypsy thing again. Closed down Morgan Junction Tully’s, moved on to Ladro. Ran into someone from the still-out pocket near MJ who fairly exuded frustration, albeit quiet frustration. We’re seeing City Light trucks here and there, including a cluster up by the Upper Fauntleroy pocket, working on into the night. Keep us posted on who’s back and who’s not, so we can share the news.
Just back from a partial tour. Jacobsen Road is back up. So is Lincoln Park Way, including the gas station at the north end of Lincoln Park, and the Lowman Beach area at the bottom of the hill. Beach Drive is open again at the tree-blockage site, but the homes surrounding it aren’t back on yet (the area closer to Me-Kwa-Mooks IS, however). Neither is a stretch of Sullivan St. in Upper Fauntleroy. The city, meantime, has beefed up the info on the City Light page for the first time in what seems like days — including links to the latest newspaper articles — and a link to this complete breakdown, neighborhood by neighborhood (guess it was the city that broke apart WS and Delridge, not the Times as we suggested earlier, sorry). And from elsewhere in blogland,Ã‚Â here’s a funny, one-paragraph refutation of those who suggest racism/classism has had something to do with the order in which neighborhoods were restored (we had to dismiss that one, given the length of time that stretch of Beach Drive has been out).
–The Seattle Times also is reporting on the City Light press conference from a few hours ago; its article includes a breakdown of which areas still have outages, including curiously, separate mentions of WS and Delridge. Uh, hello, Delridge is part of WS, Times people …
-Another “pocket” report is in — one side of the street still out at Fauntleroy & Raymond.
-During the torrential rain that preceded the wind, Me-Kwa-Mooks had a major mudflow (from the looks of the gutters along the east side of Beach Drive nearby, looks like it ran along the streets). Here’s how it looked from the street when we went by a while ago:
–Asplundh crews are out working on both the Beach Drive blockage and also some tree trouble along Jacobsen (which was also closed off about a third of the way up the hill when we went by a short time ago and currently has “Local Access Only” signs at both ends).
-An e-mail tip says 48th between Fauntleroy and Beach Drive, “near the Pelly Place green space,” was still out as of this morning. Just found a new P-I report on a press conference by the City Light big boss this morning, pushing back the “most everyone back online” timeline to THURSDAY. Ouch.
-Somebody told us a day or two ago about the Christmas tree caught on a Junction line (44th/Oregon). Today, after our delish stop at Bakery Nouveau (the brown sugar pecan brioche was as good as it looked), we snapped it:
Sorry to see the dry weather is ending — at least rain wasn’t here these past few days to compound the misery of those without power. As for who’s still not plugged in, so far this morning, we have reports from 41st & Holly and Delridge & Kenyon. We’ve been on for almost 24 hours now, but the pocket not far from our house in Upper Fauntleroy may not be, as we’re still hearing the hum-roar of a generator in the distance. Off shortly to check on Beach Drive (the road closure as well as the outage, plus the Me-Kwa-Mooks mud). In the news this morning — the Times has a story headlined “why isn’t my power back on yet?” but doesn’t really offer any groundbreaking info (we’ve heard now about “feeders” and “laterals” about 2,086 times) though there are plenty of personal stories in this 9 am update; there’s no new info in the City Light online update, which is timestamped 8 am but looks about the same as the two or three “updates” posted yesterday (the number “15,000 customers” in particular doesn’t seem to have changed).
-Last power update for the night: The pocket just west of Westwood Village is back on. The pocket near Home Depot (Delridge & Orchard) is not (at least, as of our drive thru the area a few hours ago). Meantime, the sinkhole saga on the hill over Lincoln Park seems to be even worse, at least for one homeowner featured again in tomorrow’s P-I.
-While checking out the Delridge/Orchard outage, we took an unintended turn and wound up on Puget Ridge. More than a decade in WS, and we’ve never been in the South Seattle Community College area before, believe it or not … hard to tell at night, but seems like some people up there must have a heck of a view.
-Non-outage related business notes: First, Bakery Nouveau. Ducked in on its second day of ops today to have a look (unfortunately we’d just had lunch so no room for a taste). Several of the items in the case at the time looked incredibly scrumptious, such as a chevre/garlic/pine nuts galette-type thing (sorry, our culinary vocabulary fails us), slices of dark chocolate cake, and brown sugar pecan brioche (gotta stop by tomorrow morning and see if they’ve got any more of those for breakfast). Also in business notes, the former Jan-Michael salon (and long-ago “frozen custard stand”) just north of Thriftway in Morgan Junction has finally revealed its new identity … a mortgage company moving from its prior spot a few blocks south on Cali.