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Freak storm shreds North Kitsap

The April 27 storm that blew through North Kitsap in an hour and a half left behind more than enough memories of how rough Mother Nature can be on the area. From the white-capped waves that crashed on Hansville’s shores to the timbers that tumbled and blocked rural roads, the north end of Kitsap County found itself in a mess Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

About 27,000 homes in North Kitsap, including Bainbridge Island, were without electricity at one point Tuesday evening, said Puget Sound Energy spokesperson Tim Bader.

“The damage is a lot worse over there than it is in (the other service areas),” Bader said.

However, by 2 p.m. Wednesday crews were in the final stages of removing trees from wires and restoring power.

“With the nice weather we are having now, it’s making it easier to get the power back on,” Bader said.

The winds recorded in Port Townsend during the blow sustained 45 miles per hour, with a top gust of 54 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

In Port Gamble, a 100-year-old willow tree couldn’t handle the strong hand of the wind Tuesday evening as it was slapped down onto one of the town’s historic homes, House 40.

The tree, which was rooted on the embankment of the eastbound lane of Highway 104, fell on the building around 5:30 p.m. said Port Gamble superintendent of construction and maintenance Joseph McArdle.

“Luckily, it was a very slow, controlled fall — it didn’t suddenly rip out of the ground,” he said. “Had it been going any faster, it would have destroyed anything it hit.”

The majority of the tree landed on a portion of the house that was an addition to the structure and was being used as a dining room, said property manager Shana Smith.

“It was amazing, I think they lost two cups and two plates and I think that was about it,” she said, adding that no one was injured.

McArdle estimated the cost of damages at $20,000 but noted that the addition will not be rebuilt and only the main structure will be repaired.

As for the tree, it tore a gigantic hole in the embankment when it uprooted, bringing up plenty of dirt and rocks as well as some old water lines.

“It was kind of sad to see it go,” McArdle said.

As for emergency response personnel, both the Poulsbo Fire Department and North Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews experienced heavy call volumes Tuesday evening.

Poulsbo Fire responded to 38 calls during its 24-hour shift, with most calls related to down wires. Power spikes, surges and outages in District 18 also triggered fire alarms as well as several medical-related incidents.

NKF&R Public Information Officer Michéle Laboda said crews responded to 25-30 calls Tuesday evening and responded to more throughout the night. Most of the calls were concentrated in the Hansville and Kingston area but Suquamish and Indianola experienced a higher than usual volume as well.

However, Laboda was concerned about the number of people who ignored the road barriers that blocked access to down wires throughout North Kitsap.

“Almost universally, the public didn’t seem to grasp the potential danger inherent with live power lines down,” she said.

Laboda said one downed wire in a neighborhood attracted a group of kids who stood near the wire to feel the charge it was emitting. There were no reported injuries, “despite a lot of dangerous behavior,” she said.

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