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Winds kill power in first big winter blow

Linemen for Puget Sound Energy look at a tree that fell onto powerlines along Bayview Road near Aquila Drive on Monday. The fallen tree knocked out power in Bayview and part of Bayview Road for hours.   - Stephen Mercer
Linemen for Puget Sound Energy look at a tree that fell onto powerlines along Bayview Road near Aquila Drive on Monday. The fallen tree knocked out power in Bayview and part of Bayview Road for hours.
— image credit: Stephen Mercer

The heavy winds and rains that hit South Whidbey Monday knocked down trees and cut off power to about 1,300 homes.

Wind gusts reaching nearly 50 miles per hour hit the island during a daytime storm. During the storm, three power outages were recorded in Freeland, one in Langley and one at Bayview. The majority of the outages occurred when trees or limbs fell onto power lines owned by Puget Sound Energy.

The most significant power outage hit Bayview when a tree fell on a line at 10:54 a.m., said Dorothy Bracken, a PSE spokesperson. Dan Fokan, a foreman for Puget Sound Energy, said a strong gust of wind tipped part of a rotten tree onto power lines near the intersection of Bayview Road and Aquila Drive. The impact of the tipped tree broke the insulators on the top of a power pole and snapped a power line.

About 900 PSE customers lost power in this outage alone, Bracken said, including about 300 homes along Bayview Road and several Bayview businesses. The traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 525 and Bayview Road also lost power.

To compensate, several businesses used portable or backup generators to keep their businesses running. Many businesses were not open, as Monday was the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

Power returned to most of Bayview at 12:55 p.m. By 2:40 p.m., all needed repairs were made and power restored to about 300 homes on Bayview Road that remained without power the longest.

In Freeland, the first outage occurred at 11:18 a.m. on East Newman Road. Bracken said PSE employees were unsure of the cause and restored power to 350 homes affected by re-energizing the line. A fallen tree kept 10 Fox Spit Road homes without power from 3:16 to about 8 p.m, she said. A home along Freeland’s S. Emil Road also went without power from 5:16 to 8 p.m. because of a limb resting on a powerline.

The wind affected PSE customers in Langley as well when the winds and rain toppled a hemlock onto a power line in the Brooks Hill area on McKay Drive at 3:36 p.m., Bracken said. She said two homes went without power until 8:40 p.m.

Business as usual

For Bayview, the only area where businesses went without power, at least two people viewed the power line break as the first significant power outage of the year. Because power outages are so frequent, Leah Eddington, grocery manager at Casey’s Red Apple Market, said her store was were ready. Freezers and refrigerators were closed and covered with plastic. A backup generator also ensured the food would say cool, she said.

“We were in good shape,” Eddington said.

At the nearby Exxon gas station, cashier Lawanna Johnson said Casey’s procedure to keep food preserved benefited the gas station. Customers were buying milk at Exxon because the refrigerators were sealed at Casey’s, she said.

Customers bought candy, soda and food from the warmers, as well, Johnson said. the power outage did hurt sales, though, because customers could not pump gas or use their debit or credit cards without electricity and were forced to use cash, she said.

Two other Bayview businesses compensated by bringing in a temporary power source.

At B & L Auto Repair, a portable generator provided power for tools and employees held flashlights while vehicles were being worked on. A portable generator provided power to the Star Store at Bayview Corner to preserve its frozen and refrigerated food.

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