Thousands in region bracing for fifth night without power
Thousands of Puget Sound-area residents are preparing to spend what for many will be their fifth night without power tonight, unable to...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Thousands of Puget Sound-area residents are preparing to spend what for many will be their fifth night without power tonight, unable to heat their homes or cook as temperatures drop near the freezing level.
And in what appears to be another fatal accident, a 31-year-old man's body was found Sunday morning near a charcoal grill he was using to warm the bedroom of his home in Renton, the second person to die from carbon-monoxide poisoning, according to the King County Medical Examiner's Office and the Associated Press. A total of at least eight deaths have been attributed to the storm.
Investigators said no details would be immediately available on the Renton-area resident, pending an examination today.
At least 225,000 customers were still without electricity this morning in King and Snohomish counties.
·On the Eastside, about 40 percent of Bellevue was still without power.
·Puget Sound Energy expects to make good headway today restoring power to suburbs.
·Renton man was found dead by his roommates.
·Power still out for 18,000 City Light customers, 8,700 Snohomish PUD customers.
Officials predicted it might be days before power is restored in some of the hardest-hit areas, including Cougar Mountain in Bellevue, rural Woodinville, outlying parts of North Bend, Snoqualmie, Duvall, Carnation and Skykomish in East King County and some South King County neighborhoods.
Puget Sound Energy said that as of 4 a.m. today, 198,000 customers were still without electricity, though crews were making good progress since dawn and expected to cull that number by tens of thousands of customers today. Even so, it still had more than a dozen major feeders lines to repair.
On the Eastside, about 40 percent of Bellevue was still without power today, and dozens of streets remained closed and about 30 street lights were still out.
Power was restored to most of the north and central parts of Mercer Island, though it may be Wednesday before the south end gets power, a city spokeswoman said.
Seattle City Light reported that about 18,000 customers were still without electricity in its service area, but it expected that number to drop to about 5,000 by midnight tonight as crews restored power in localized pockets.
Most of the scattered outages were in the southeast part of the city, including Madrona, Leschi, Skyway, Rainier Valley, Tukwila, South Park and parts of West Seattle. Areas in Lake Forest Park were also in the dark.
The Snohomish County PUD said about 8,700 customers were still without power, mostly in the southeast corner of the county, such as Canyon Park and Bothell but also extending north to Lake Stevens.
Retailers in the region reported running out of fire logs and batteries, and wood for burning was in short supply. Long lines continued at gas stations.
Storm damage still has dozens of roads closed
King County Road Services on Sunday night reported more than 44 road closures.
The biggest impact for commuters this morning will be closure of the Woodinville-Duvall Road Northeast between Avondale Road Northeast and West Snoqualmie Valley Road Northeast due to storm damage. This will cause significant traffic disruptions for Duvall commuters and others living in Northeast King County. The road is expected to reopen later today.
The closure will allow Puget Sound Energy crews safer and better access to the storm-damaged area. Motorists can detour via West Snoqualmie Valley Road Northeast and Novelty Hill Road. For a complete list of closures: www.metrokc.gov/kcdot/roads/roadalert
Bellevue, Federal way, Mercer Island and Vashon Island are among the school districts closed today. For an updated list of school closures: www.schoolreport.org/
While some churches were closed, others held limited services Sunday, minus heat and power.
In Renton, the 31-year-old man was found dead by his roommates in their home in the 800 block of Dayton Avenue Northeast. The roommates had spent the night in a car outside, and returned home to find the charcoal grill about six feet from the man's body, police said. His name was not released this morning.
Kirkland police have released more details on a 26-year-old man believed to have died from carbon-monoxide poisoning. The man was discovered Saturday morning in a rear bedroom of a home in the 10500 block of Northeast 124th Street by his landlord, who called 911.
Emergency services found the house "closed up" and a portable gas generator in the living room, which had been powering a bedroom heater and some other appliances. The generator was switched on but had run out of gasoline by the time the man was found.
The man's name was not released, pending notification of his family.
In addition to the two persons believed to have died from carbon-monoxide poisoning, at least six others have perished since Thursday. A Gig Harbor man in his mid-30s died about 4:30 p.m. Sunday when he was electrocuted by a downed power line in the 8200 block of Shirley Avenue . The man was walking his dog and likely didn't notice the power line, which was hidden in a tree that had fallen, said Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer. The man' name was not released.
Steven Thielen, 48, of Spanaway, died Saturday when a candle he was using for light apparently ignited a fire, authorities said. Harold Fox, 47, of Eatonville, and 37-year-old Bonnie Bacus of Roy, died in separate car accidents as the storm blew in on Thursday. That same night, in McCleary, Grays Harbor County, a 28-year-old Anacortes man died when a treetop snapped and crashed into the mobile home where he slept. And in Seattle, Kate Fleming, 41, drowned in the basement of her Madison Valley home when a surge of stormwater slammed into the house.
As the power outages drag on, one Bellevue resident, Katy Freiberg, said the idea of spending the days before Christmas in a shelter with her three children — ages 9, 8 and 3 — is unsettling. But the four had used an outdoor barbecue grill for cooking and warmth since power at their home went out Thursday night.
"We were putting wood in the grill to cook and stay warm; we were basically living outside," Freiberg said as the four down to a lunch of soup and sandwiches. "We woke up this morning and it was so very cold, I said, 'Kids, we just can't do this anymore. We need to get warm.'"
On Sunday, desperate for a shower, clean clothes and a warm meal, they drove to the North Bellevue Community Center.
The King County Office of Emergency Management is asking for the public's help in obtaining federal disaster assistance for the county.
County residents are urged to document storm damage and report it by calling 800-523-5044 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. They're also urged to take photographs.
By Sunday morning, the county's damage-report hotline had received 135 reports of damage to primary residential structures and businesses. Callers reported estimated structural damage totaling $3.7 million and personal property and inventory losses of more than $465,000.
While some sought refuge in emergency shelters, thousands more were choosing to ride out the cold and darkness in their homes. Others sought treatment for carbon-monoxide poisoning and hypothermia. Area hospitals also reported storm-related injuries, including nasty cuts from chain saws.
John L. Chelminiak, the deputy mayor of Bellevue, was volunteering at the Bellevue Community Center. He said 275 people had come through the shelter, located on 148th Avenue Southeast, since late Thursday.
"It's getting increasingly tough for many people to stay in their homes," Chelminiak said.
Margaret Little, who works as a caregiver in the Bellevue area, said she worries that the region's most fragile residents— those who most need shelter — are not seeking it out.
"A lot of people are stuck in the dark," she said.
Little pointed out that people living alone without power cannot hear news reports about where to go or whom to call for help. Some elderly and frail people don't have their own transportation to get to emergency shelters, she added.
"A lot of people, their families may be trying to reach them by telephone — when they don't get an answer they assume they went elsewhere." But without power, she pointed out, some phones don't work.
Many nursing homes and retirement centers still without power sought alternative shelter for their residents.
At Hutchison House Apartments in Issaquah, about 95 of the 120 residents remained in their apartments Sunday night, bundled up in heavy clothing and blankets.
None of the independent-living apartments had heat or lights, although a generator provided by authorities was keeping shared living space warm during the day.
The apartment home's generator broke down on Friday, leaving the complex without heat for about five hours.
Ada Wolf, the apartments' assistant manager, said one elderly woman slipped in the dark while trying to open her apartment door. The 82-year-old woman, who has since left to stay with a community volunteer, was checked out by emergency workers and found to be OK.
Another resident, Wanda Peck, 76, braved two nights in her apartment before leaving by taxi to stay with her son in Tacoma.
"On the second morning when I woke up, and it was dark and cold, it was really upsetting," Peck said.
Although residents survived on little but crackers and pop at first, by the weekend community volunteers brought in lasagna and pots of soup, Wolf said.
Wolf said the apartment managers have been out of town and are due back today.
In the Seattle area, where pockets of homes still remained without power. At the Bitter Lake Community Center, where a shelter was set up, Rebecca Pennington, 25, and 15-month-old Aiden arrived about 10 a.m. Sunday. Pennington said she wanted to take a shower and try to regroup.
Pennington, her husband and their son had braved the cold in their Mountlake Terrace apartment, using a propane grill to boil water for coffee.
The wood they were burning in the fireplace to stay warm ran out on Saturday night, and Pennington decided to leave on Sunday after she said the apartment became colder than outside.
"We don't have any relatives here; we don't know anyone," said Pennington. Her family moved here from North Carolina in May, she said.
As she spoke about what to do next, Ethel Whelan approached, offering the family shelter in one of two homes she owns.
"We came during the heat wave, then there was the flood and the snow and the ice, and now this," Pennington said.
Staff reporters Elizabeth Rhodes, Mike Lindblom and Nick Perry contributed to this story.
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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