Lisa Jameson, 847-8099, LJameson@spokanecounty.org
Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 2:52 p.m.
SPOKANE, Wash. – Greater Spokane Department of Emergency Management (DEM), in partnership with numerous agencies, held another press conference today to update the community on the recovery status after Tuesday’s unprecedented windstorm. With the possibility for some outages to persist into mid-next week, the emphasis remains to be #InlandStrong. Encouragingly, there is good community response to officials’ encouragement for neighbors to help each other. For those with power, please continue to open homes and hearts to those without, or encourage them to seek refuge in any of the many shelters and warming centers listed here. 2-1-1, open this weekend from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., also remains a tremendous resource for the community for locating post-windstorm services, as well as a Google Crisis map showing shelter, grocery and library locations.
With low temperatures set to remain for several days, those still inside their homes and without electricity need to remain vigilant in protecting against carbon monoxide poisoning and hypothermia. A volunteer door-to-door campaign is underway in both the City of Spokane and City of Spokane Valley to check on those individuals and ensure they have access to resources and are doing everything they can to remain safe and warm. For individuals who would like to volunteer, please visit volunteerspokane.org or call 2-1-1. If an individual would like to simply show up, on Nov. 22, they should arrive at 9 a.m. at West Central Community Center, 1603 N Belt St., Spokane, for training.
The Department of Emergency Management is beginning the process of damage assessment. Remember to consult with your insurance company before removing storm debris from private property. Officials also want to remind everyone to use licensed contractors if they need assistance. The vast majority of contractors out in the community are offering legitimate services and here to help. Unfortunately, residents need to be aware that there are people who would take advantage of the situation.
City of Spokane is continuing to make progress with fully deployed crews focusing on clearing arterials and other critical areas around schools and health care facilities – residential and side streets will follow. The City of Spokane extended free disposal of large storm debris through Nov. 29 at its Northside Landfill and Waste to Energy Plant. Over the past two days, those locations accepted 306 tons of debris. Smaller debris can be placed into their clean green bins for regular pick up. Perishable food items can be disposed of in clean green bins once the packaging has been removed.
Specific to Spokane County efforts, Commissioner Todd Mielke reiterated officials’ constant communication with Governor Jay Inslee’s office. The governor’s declaration of a state of emergency gives the community access to resources, should it need them – DEM continually assesses this need and confirms there is still no specific need for National Guard assistance. County crews are widely deployed and focusing on arterials and residential and side streets. The Spokane County Regional Solid Waste System also is accepting residential storm-related yard and tree waste for free at its North County Transfer Station, 22123 N. Elk-Chattaroy Road, and Valley Transfer Station, 3941 N. Sullivan Road, through Sunday. Hours for those facilities are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The County has announced its free service runs through Nov. 22, with an extension to Nov. 29 at the North County Transfer Station.
Avista continues to make good progress on critical infrastructure and human services priorities, but the reality is that restoring power to the remaining 30 percent of customers will be challenging. Ninety-seven crews are on rotating shifts, working in populated areas, where some poles are located in easements and backyards where heavy equipment cannot go. Once crews arrive on-site, they increasingly are finding a greater magnitude of devastation and unexpected manual work – 60,000 homes are still without power in their service area. Avista Chairman and CEO, Scott Morris, expressed his empathy and asked for the community’s patience as recovery continues from the most damage seen by Avista from a natural disaster in its 126-year history.
Inland Power and Light is still focused on efficiency and safety in their restoration efforts as 8,000 of their members remain without power. They reiterated their need for individuals to stay clear of downed power lines. It has 13 extra crews now dedicated to helping in its restoration of members’ power, but agreed that it could be as late as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week until all members are back on.
Modern Electric is working diligently to restore power to its 50 customers who remain without power.
City of Spokane Valley Public Works crews removed all reported blockages from downed trees in the public roadway. No new reports have been received. Please call 921.1000 to report any new storm-related tree and debris blockages in Spokane Valley city roadways. Volunteers were out in seven areas that were still without power distributing safety information, recovery updates, and information on resources for those affected by the storm. Three of those volunteer teams reported back that power was since restored in those areas. Most of traffic signals are up and running.
DEM continues to coordinate resources throughout Spokane County including first responders, health organizations, social service agencies and other resource providers and power companies – public safety remains a priority.