Generators, lanterns, batteries and other emergency supplies were difficult to find this week, being quickly picked by residents preparing for today’s big storm.
Shelves in hardware stores like Ace in Freeland were stripped bare as early as Thursday afternoon with people readying themselves for the storm University of Washington Meteorologist Cliff Mass said had “the potential to be a historic event.” The storm is actually two separate storms that are predicted to hit the Pacific Northwest back to back, with the second “potentially much stronger,” according to Mass. The second, which could be traced back to Typhoon Songda in the Western Pacific Ocean, is predicted to land today.
“The bottom line is that we have a dangerous storm, comparable to the 2006 Chanukah Eve storm or the 1993 Inauguration Day Storm, one that is following nearly a perfect track to produce strong winds over the Puget Sound region,” Mass wrote on his blog. “The coast is guaranteed to be hit hard.”
Freeland ACE Hardware store manager Kari Gerow said items such as lights, candles, lanterns, D batteries and generators went fast. The hardware store’s Stihl dealer next door had to restock on generators Thursday to meet customers’ needs.
“It’s interesting, people usually aren’t proactive, but everyone is running around grabbing what they need this time,” Gerow said. “The truck with our new shipment came in this morning at 8 a.m., and most of it was gone three hours later.”
In areas that saw flooding during storms last year, such as Useless Bay and Maxwelton Valley, residents are preparing for much of the same or even worse flooding. Sunlight Beach resident John Shepard said he pulled his kayaks and paddleboards off the beach and brought his barbecue inside. He also sealed their sliding door to the backyard with putty so rain wouldn’t come into the house.
Shepard said in the past that debris normally seen on the beach has crashed over the dike on Sunlight Beach Road and onto residents’ yards and flooded the road. He added about a dozen homeowners sustained significant property damage, with one estimating his home raked up $22,000 in bills.
“I was down on the beach during previous storms and I’ve seen boats get really banged up,” Shepard said. “All boats should be brought up to safe areas. Furniture and other things that could get blown around or go through a window should be secured or removed.”
Shepard, who is also a commissioner for Diking District 1, is concerned the dike could be breached if the storm is as bad as meteorologists have predicted. He said if it’s breached and there is flooding, the worst case scenario would see flooding that extends up to Highway 525 and Bayview.
Puget Sound Energy crews are prepping for outages. Spokesperson Akiko Oda said crews are ready to deploy with assignments. Since it’s early fall and most trees still have their leaves, they are more susceptible to toppling over during high winds, Oda said. As it continues to rain and the ground gets more saturated, it further destabilizes the trees, she added.
“We have the equipment and materials that are needed for the type of outages that can be caused by high winds,” Oda said. “Crews are prepared to assess potential damage and begin the process of repairing damage and restoring power as soon as safely possible.”
Puget Sound Energy is encouraging South Whidbey residents to drive carefully in case of outages at traffic signals. South Enders should have emergency supplies on hand at home and in their vehicles and should charge their mobile devices in case of emergency if the power goes out.