Storm strikes Sound

Kitsap County took a harder hit than most from Mother Nature last weekend, as she unleashed her wrath in a powerful storm Friday night and Saturday morning, with North Kitsap receiving the brunt of the destructive blow.

It was a busy weekend for fire departments, public works agencies, law enforcement and especially Puget Sound Energy. Each worked long hours to respond to the community’s needs, ranging from power outages to emergencies caused by the storm.

The number of outages peaked at 2 p.m. Saturday, with 140,000 customers without power in Puget Sound, said PSE spokeswoman Lynn Carlson, primarily in Island, Jefferson and Kitsap counties. Kitsap alone had a total of 29,500 customers without power. More than 100 PSE utility crews, including backup support from Northern California and Canada, were in the field at the time.

As of Monday afternoon, there were still 3,000 homes without power in Kitsap County and 86 crews were on the job, two-thirds of which were working in Kitsap.

“We’re intending to restore everybody by midnight (Monday),” she said.

There was significant damage on the Kitsap Peninsula, she added, as down trees and wind disrupted the operation of major transmission stations.

One of the more dramatic incidents caused by the storm in the North End was when North Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call just after 8 a.m. Saturday of a waterfront cabin in Jefferson Beach, off Marine View Drive, washing off its foundation and into the Sound. A couple had been staying in it overnight.

The woman told deputies her husband was still in the cabin, which had floated about 100 feet offshore, at the time of the call, said KCSO spokesman Scott Wilson.

To rescue the man, a KCSO deputy on the scene, secured by a rope stabilized onshore by an NKF&R firefighter and another KCSO deputy, waded out to the cabin to get the man. A car parked near the cabin had also been inundated with water.

NKF&R crews returned to the scene Saturday afternoon to find that two more cabins had been flooded but were otherwise fine. They also found a 35x40-foot section of the Jefferson Beach Homeowners Association pier had been washed away in the storm.

Overall, NKF&R crews received more than 80 calls during an 18-hour period that started at 11:30 p.m. Friday night, said NKF&R spokeswoman Michéle Laboda.

The majority of accidents crews responded to involved trees on roadways and downed power lines. By 8 a.m. Saturday, nearly every thoroughfare in the district was blocked, she said.

“We were fortunate in escaping any serious injuries to citizens but we’re struck over and over again by the incredible risks people took to get around our (road) blocks,” Laboda said.

This was a major concern as Puget Sound Energy started restoring power to the area Saturday and felled lines that were believed to be dead could have been conducting power, she added.

The Poulsbo Fire Department didn’t quite have as a dramatic situation as North but there were some close calls, including to back-to-back residential structure fires. However, the first fire was already out when PFD arrived on the scene and at the second house, the fire was nothing — just a couple candles providing light for a home.

“I’m just thankful those weren’t true working fires because that would have zapped us,” said PFD Battalion Chief Chris Morrison, noting that all his units were out on calls at the time. Volunteer firefighters were called in to help staff two other stations and assist to calls for trees in power lines and downed wires. Overall, the department ran 101 calls —  76 calls on Saturday and 25 on Sunday.

Kitsap County Public Works spokesman Doug Bear said the county was hit the hardest in both the northern and southern regions, with as many as 90 different locations where downed trees were impeding traffic.

Primarily, crews reported to downed trees on the road as well as those that tangled in power lines, Bear said, and crews worked from midnight Saturday through 8 a.m. Sunday morning as well as Sunday night trying to clear the area.

“It was a pretty significant event,” he said. “One of the hard things (though), if a tree is in a wire, we have to wait for PSE to get on site.”

Washington State Patrol also shut down State Route 104 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday between Port Gamble and Striebel’s Corner for downed power lines and lines in trees, said WSP spokesman Brian George.

At 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning, the Hood Canal Bridge was closed to traffic due to winds exceeding 50 mph. It reopened at 3 a.m., said Washington State Department of Transportation Communications Manager, Olympic region, Lisa Murdock. The bridge was then closed again between 3:40-4:45 a.m. because of high winds.

The Port of Kingston was hit hard by the winds and water, as boats in the marina suffered broken lines and a 28-foot derelict vessel in the harbor sunk, said POK office manager Scott Coulter.

One of the port’s shore pines, approximately 20-feet in height, located between the new bathrooms and boat launch, was uprooted entirely as well, he said.

But the most significant damage was to the port’s North Beach, just north of the ferry terminal, where the strong wind and rough waters eroded part of the bulkhead that makes up the four-foot wide trail that goes to the beach.

“That is out of commission for a while until we get it fixed,” he said.

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