Numbers tell Kent storm story
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
January 25, 2012 · 11:51 AM
The numbers in Kent tell the story about the impact of January's snow and ice storms.
That's the record number of calls the Kent Fire Department responded to on Thursday, Jan. 19 when the ice storm hit. Firefighters average about 44 calls per day, said Kent Fire Department spokesman Kyle Ohashi.
Most of the 453 calls were for fallen trees and power lines in addition to medical aid. That number shattered the previous 24-hour record of 226 calls during the Dec. 15 2006 windstorm that caused extensive power outages.
"I was working at our emergency coordination center most of the day so I knew we had a lot of crews out," Ohashi said. "But I was very surprised at the sheer number."
When Ohashi drove around Kent later in the day, the high-call volume made more sense.
"When you're out there you realize the devastation to people's property," he said.
The fire department called in extra crews to handle the calls. Small crews used department pickups (rather than fire engines) equipped with chainsaws to respond to calls for removing trees.
One woman had a tree fall across her driveway and needed to get out to receive dialysis treatment, Ohashi said. Firefighters were able to cut up the tree so the woman could get out of her driveway.
The department also had 180 calls on Jan. 20, making it the fourth busiest day ever.
That's how many Kent customers of Puget Sound Energy were still without power on Friday, Jan. 20. Some people did not have power for nearly a week. More than 2,000 customers still did not have power as of Tuesday, Jan. 24 but were expected to have it restored by Wednesday.
PSE crews restored more than 386,000 customers in Western Washington since the snow and ice storms. The company had 280 crews assigned to 311 power outages. Through Monday, PSE had repaired and re-energized 56 transmission lines, 70 substations and 326 distribution circuits.
Kent, Olympia, Federal Way and Auburn were a few of the hardest hit cities as far as the total number of customers without power.
That's how many days the Kent School District closed because of the weather conditions. School was closed Jan. 17, 18, 19, 20 and 23.
At one point, nearly 30 of the 40 schools in the district were without power, said Chris Loftis, school district spokesman. Five schools, including Kentwood High, were still without power Monday but got power back in time for school to reopen Tuesday.
Downed trees and power lines also limited access at a number of the schools during the storm.
That's the number of Kent city crews from the public works and parks departments that were out and about to clear trees and limbs from streets and parks.
"Our first priority of work is continuing to get all of the major arterials open," according to the city's Facebook page. "From there we will move to getting collector roads to those arterials opened. We expect to take most of the week to clear all of the debris on the roads and in the right of way. There is a lot of damage to trees on the arterials that we need to clean up as well address the hazards from hanging limbs."
More than a dozen streets were closed at one point. As of Tuesday, four streets remained closed.
City officials asked for residents to be patient as far as when debris might be cleared from their street or sidewalk.
"As you have seen driving around Kent, the extent of the damage is so great that it is very difficult to put timelines on any of the work we are doing so far and when we might get to the next level of priority," according to city officials.
Kent Fire Department calls
(during the storm)
Jan. 17 52
Jan. 18 87
Jan. 19 453 (record)
Jan. 20 180
Jan. 21 93
Kent Fire Department call history
(Five busiest 24-hour periods)
Jan. 19, 2012 453
Dec. 15, 2006 226
Jan. 7, 2004 189
Jan. 20, 2012 180
Jan. 18, 2005 149Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.