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Snowpocalypse Now: Storm beats Kitsap into submission
POULSBO - When a postmaster stands up and takes notice of bad weather, it's a moment to remember. Sworn to do their delivery duty through the worst of what Mother Nature can toss at them, what's been dubbed by some as Snowpocalyse 2008, is cause for concern for even the most rugged U.S. postal carriers.
"Oh boy," Hansville Postmaster Chuck Cox said, summing up the average of 10 inches of snow that fell on North Kitsap in the past week but did not deter the carriers. "We're obligated to stay open for the people and to try to get Christmas to them."
Cox could easily have gotten a case of the Mondays, as he arrived at the dark and frigid Hansville post office at 5:30 a.m. The post office was one of the estimated 12,000 Puget Sound Energy customers in Kitsap without power on Monday. By 5 p.m., about 4,000 Kitsapers were still in the dark, while the PSE Web site estimated power should be restored to all by 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Cox decribed the office as "really cold" when he arrived.
The loss of power forced the postal carriers to adapt, improvise and overcome to get to their rounds. In this case, that meant they arrived at work earlier than usual and wore Zoolander-type miner hats with lights on them.
One of Cox's first orders of business was to shovel the walk so it would be safe for his customers. He didn't mind the grunt work.
"We're obligated to stay open for our people and to try to get Christmas to them.
We have a very dedicated group of people who care about this little town and we want to do everything we can to get them their mail," Cox said.
While it was the snow that rendered some of the roads impassable, the snow sledders also impeded some routes.
"I had some carriers saying 'I was going to go up that hill, but there were so many kids sledding down,' " Cox said.
Others stuck working in conditions prime for playing were about 70 PSE crews restoring power to Kitsap customers. While the crews faced the bitterly cold 30-degree temperatures, the snow added insult to injury by creating new outages throughout the day.
"The heavy snow is weighing down the branches, bending them down to make contact with power lines. In some cases, it's just snapping the branches off into the lines," said Roger Thompson, PSE spokesman. Nearly three-fourths of all power outages were in Kitsap.
"You just got more snow than anybody," he said. "We're throwing everything we have into restoration efforts both in damage assessments and line repair crews."
In addition to power loss, the snowfall wreaked havoc in other ways:
Citing "extreme weather conditions," the Washington State Ferries' Web site stated most of Monday's Kingston/Edmonds runs were cancelled because of fuel service disruption on the Hyak. Three runs from Kingston and three from Edmonds were cancelled. Service is expected to return to normal on Tuesday.
As for the rest of the week, the Kingston/Edmonds ferry will be on a holiday schedule on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as New Year's Day.
A link to the WSF schedule is provided at www.northkitsapherald.com.
Waste Management did not collect trash in Kitsap County on Monday. Residential customers who were without service this week can set out two weeks' worth of garbage, recycling and yard waste for no additional charge on the next collection day, according to a press release from Waste Management.
Kitsap Transit ran only limited routes Monday and will do the same on Tuesday.
Kitsap County offices were closed Monday and will open two hours late on Tuesday.
Poulsbo's city offices opened late and closed closed early on Monday and will do the same Tuesday, with office hours from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.