Windstorm Recovery Update
Media Contact: Lisa Jameson, 847-8099; EmailLJameson@spokanecounty.org For Immediate Release: Nov. 24, 2015
Windstorm Recovery Update
SPOKANE, Wash. – Greater Spokane Department of Emergency Management (DEM), in partnership with numerous agencies, held another press conference today to update the community on recovery from Nov. 17’s historic windstorm. Hard work from utilities, street crews and neighbors continues this week to get people back into their homes. The wind is expected to start picking up late this afternoon with gusts of up to 30 mph that will continue through Wednesday. Crews are working around the clock and the community’s contribution with its own commitment to remain #InlandStrong is much appreciated.
Governor Jay Inslee, who assigned a staff member to Spokane County’s emergency management operations group in the immediate hours after the winds peaked, attended today’s press conference and talked about how Spokane County as a community has pulled together during one of the most devastating storms in our history. “We know statewide this has been a very long and very tough week for Spokane County,” said Governor Inslee, “Spokane County has shown it is #InlandStrong in the last week and I have seen it in just the hour and a half I’ve been here.” Governor Inslee also met with volunteers before they continued door-to-door to check on homebound individuals without power.
For those still without power, 23 warming centers and shelters are still open throughout the community, including five at Spokane Public Schools. The complete list is available on the health district’s web site at: www.srhd.org/news.asp?id=533. 2-1-1, whose staff already fielded hundreds of calls, also remains a tremendous resource for the community for locating post-windstorm services, as well as a Google Crisis map showing shelter, warming and grocery locations. Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs (SNAP) has been out delivering firewood and tarps to cover roofs. Agencies also released today a new Emergency Resource Guide that consolidates many of the resources and services available after the windstorm: http://srhd.org/documents/EmergencyResourcesGuide.pdf.
The state has said that for current DSHS Clients, if they currently receive SNAP/Basic Food benefits and their food has been destroyed in a household disaster or misfortune, it can be replaced. Federal rules limit the replacement to the value of food lost up to the amount of the household’s monthly benefits. To request replacement benefits, please call DSHS at 1-877-501-2233. They must report the loss within 10 days in order for DSHS to replace their benefits. If someone does not currently receive SNAP/Basic Food benefits and thinks they may be eligible, they can apply for benefits under current SNAP/Basic Food program rules. Individuals and families who have gross income before taxes or withholding of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines may be eligible for benefits. To apply for Basic Food from any computer with internet access, go to www.washingtonconnection.org. They can also apply for benefits at your local Community Services Office or call 1-877-501-2233.
Officials cautioned the public that the combination of freezing temperatures, moisture and winds out of the northeast present new challenges and encouraged residents to use extreme caution around storm debris—downed trees should be considered unstable and downed lines may not be visible through the snow. If possible, residents are encouraged to stay indoors or in shelters, and to stay off roadways. Drivers must be more cautious than usual as snow could obscure potential hazards and make stopping at intersections without working signals more dangerous.
Spokane County advised SCRAPS is taking pets as a temporary shelter for people without power. They also still have approximately 20 dogs that are “storm strays” that are waiting for their owners to claim them.
Also related to storm damage is an updated online reporting tool from Greater Spokane Emergency Management at www.spokanecounty.org/emergencymgmt for residents and businesses that suffered storm damage to submit their damage information.
Police officers stepped up patrols in the darkest neighborhoods and will continue to be out there, but citizens are also reminded to be vigilant by securing generators and other items, keeping a close eye out for unusual activity and calling Crime Check 456-2233 with any concerns.
Also, as Thanksgiving approaches, access to food is increasingly becoming a concern in the community. Second Harvest offers a list on its website of eastern Washington emergency food outlets or call (509) 534-6678. Partners are also coming together to bolster numerous existing communal meal locations, listed here, and discern if additional locations will be needed for communal meals.
Community Organizations Active in Disasters, a group of community volunteers, worked with several organizations to staff and host meals over the next few days. Hot meals will be served at:
- Bowdish Middle School, 2109 S. Skipworth, will host meals tonight and Wednesday, Nov. 25, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., and Thursday, Nov. 26, for Thanksgiving from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
- Salk Middle School, 6411 N. Alberta, and Ferris High School, 3020 E. 37th, will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. through Sunday, Nov. 29. Food will be served at noon.
- St. Margaret’s, 101 E. Hartson, will be open tomorrow, Nov. 25, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with assistance from Gonzaga Prep.
- House of Charities, 32 W. Pacific, will serve a Thanksgiving meal tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.
Additionally, food pantries are open for supplies:
- Better Living Center, 25 E. North Foothills, will open its food bank from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Members of Adventist Community Service and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are providing volunteers and food for the effort.
Clean-Up and Restoration Efforts
- City of Spokane continues to make progress with fully deployed crews focusing on clearing residential and side streets, and just two arterials remaining blocked. Free disposal of large storm debris is available through Nov. 29 at the Northside Landfill and Waste to Energy Plant. Over the past few days, those locations have accepted more than 1,360 tons of debris. Smaller debris can be placed into curbside clean green bins for regular pick up. Perishable food items can be disposed of in clean green bins once the packaging has been removed.
- Spokane County crews are widely deployed and focused on arterials and residential and side streets. Due to high volumes, the Spokane County Regional Solid Waste System is directing residential storm-related yard and tree waste to itsNorth County Transfer Station, 22123 N. Elk-Chattaroy Road. Debris of all sizes will be accepted free-of-charge through Nov. 29. Hours for those facilities are 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Avista continues to make good progress on the remaining outages, with additional help from six western states and Canada. Avista Chairman and CEO, Scott Morris said that crews will work through Thanksgiving to restore power to the 19,000 remaining homes. Avista expects that power will be restored to most of those homes by end of day tomorrow. Morris estimatedthat up to 5,000 customers may be without power into Friday. More than 100 Avista crews are focused in Spokane alone where the bulk of the outages remain. Avista continues to dig outfrom the worst natural disaster the company has seen in its history and, due to the magnitude of the destruction, work is taking longer thanexpected.
- Inland Power and Light, inlandpower.com, is down to 350 outages, most of them smaller, more complex individual cases, and asked that its customers still without power to call (877) 668-8243 with questions or concerns. Said Inland Chief Operations Officer Glen Best, “If residents operating on a generator can turn off their main breaker, to avoid electricity being re-routed—or backfed—back to the grid it allows crews to more effectively turn on power.” Inland reiterated their need for individuals to stay clear of downed power lines. It has 22 total crews now dedicated to helping in its restorationof members’ power, but is also projecting a midweek restoration of 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. DEM continues to coordinate resources throughout Spokane County including first responders, health organizations, social service agencies and other resource providers and power companies—publicsafety remains a priority. Another news release will be distributed tomorrow as necessary. Otherwise, specific updates will come from AvistaUtilities and Inland Power.