It’s Scramble To Get A Grip With Power Off Residents Bob, Weave And Innovate - And Some Say They’re Moving

The buzz of chain saws replaced the scream of sirens Wednesday as Inland Northwest residents began cleaning up after Tuesday’s ice storm.

Long lines formed at hardware, grocery and discount stores as people stocked up on candles, kerosene, batteries and blankets.

Nearly 70,000 Washington Water Power Co. customers prepared to face another cold night inside dark houses with only sandwiches for dinner and battery-powered radios for entertainment.

Many faced their fate with determination and humor. “When you’re from Wyoming, you’re used to roughing it,” said one West Plains woman.

Some got a little liquid help. State liquor stores reported a slight surge in sales. “They’re buying everything - tequila, vodka, right across the board,” one clerk said.

The Spokesman-Review staff blanketed the region searching out stories of the survivors of Tuesday’s storm. Those tales follow.

Residents of the El Rancho trailer court on Spokane’s Sunset Hill spent the day trying to recover from a fusillade of falling pines that ravaged the park Tuesday afternoon.

Steve Anderson’s trailer took a direct hit from a 20-foot section of pine that snapped off an 80-foot tree and tumbled onto his home.

The broken evergreen punctured the skin of the trailer, opening a large hole right over the living room as Anderson; his wife, Carol; and daughters, Alyssa, 7, and Brittany, 4, sat inside.

No one was hurt, but “we got out quick,” Anderson said.

He spent most of Wednesday trying to repair the gash so his family, who spent Tuesday night in a motel, could return home.

Next-door neighbor Jerry Mallon didn’t take any chances. Shortly after Anderson’s trailer was hit, Mallon hooked his pickup truck to his 36-foot-long camper trailer and pulled it out of harm’s way. He set up the trailer in a nearby lot where there weren’t any trees.

Mallon, a native of Wisconsin, said he is moving his family back to America’s Dairyland next spring. “It’s 85-below and you get 6 feet of snow there, but this doesn’t happen,” he said.

Clutching a broomstick with both hands, Barbara Morrison beat the ice off two young maple trees outside her Corbin Park home. “If I don’t do this, some moron will come over and break the tree apart,” she said.

After a good spanking, the branches no longer drooped. They stood tall, bare and unbroken. “Look at this,” said the Miami native, waving her right arm toward the broken boughs scattered all over the nearby park. “It’s murder, I tell you.”

Morrison and her husband, George, have lived in Spokane for about nine years. That will change soon. They’re moving back to Miami.

“It doesn’t snow there,” Barbara Morrison said. “Ever.”

After the power went out on Spokane’s South Hill on Tuesday evening, families huddled around fireplaces, gas ranges and Coleman camp stoves for dinner.

Richard and Stacy Kuhling, 908 W. Melinda Lane, boiled water on the camp stove for tea, hot chocolate and hot cider. The stove, which needed to be vented outdoors, was propped under a breezeway between the house and the garage.

The family ate cold pita bread sandwiches with deli turkey, bean sprouts and tomatoes. They poured milk and dished up cottage cheese.

“Everybody said,’This is enough,”’ said Stacy Kuhling. “I said,’That’s good, because that’s all there is.”’

Chris Wesley sat in his West Central Spokane boarding house room Tuesday afternoon, wrestling with his future.

In hand was an acceptance letter from an East Coast college, inviting the Rogers High graduate into a prestigious Russian program.

Outside was the Spokane where he grew up - the home of his parents and friends.

A tree branch made the decision for him.

“I was just sitting by the window and just looking for a sign,” said Wesley, 27. “Ka-boom, a branch breaks off, crashes my (car) trunk. That’s it, I said, that’s my sign. I’m leaving.”

He pulled the wreckage off his Mazda sedan Wednesday afternoon so he could begin packing. A broken rear window will be fixed on the way to Connecticut’s Wesleyan College. “It was an act of God. You think I’m not going to listen?” Wesley asked.

Kathy Tsipras’ silver Buick sat at the curb in front of her home in Spokane’s Logan neighborhood, nearly invisible beneath the limbs of a fallen tree.

She never saw it. Instead, her energies were focused on keeping her family warm and fed - and convincing her two young sons the power outage isn’t the end of the world.

“I grew up on a farm. I learned survival skills,” Tsipras said. “These kids are used to running water and television. They don’t have a clue.”

When the power went out Tuesday afternoon, Tsipras borrowed matches from the priests at nearby Gonzaga University.

She warned her children the household milk supply was on emergency status, only to be used for cereal. “It’s not for cookies.”

Matthew Tsipras, 10, appeared dazed by the family’s primitive lifestyle. “We were listening to the news on the radio,” he said, his eyes wide in amazement.

Despite the chill, his mother said she welcomed the circumstances that brought her family closer together.

“We’re a very busy family. We’re getting back to basics,” she said, noting she and her husband shared their king-sized bed with the boys.

When tenants from one Browne’s Addition apartment complex couldn’t get warm inside, they moved outside and built a bonfire in the street.

A firefighter who checked out the illegal blaze first told Wayne Brown and his family to snuff it out. Then, he relented.

“I pleaded with him,” said Brown, who figured the temperature in his apartment at 1927 W. Riverside had dipped below 50 degrees.

Brown and his wife, Karen, and 12-year-old daughter Amanda, all gathered ‘round the fire Wednesday night. That left only 14-year-old Candice inside, snuggled under blankets.

“We can’t get her off the phone,” explained Karen Brown.

, DataTimes MEMO: Changed from the Idaho edition

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = From staff reports Staff writers Adam Lynn, Jennifer Plunkett, Jamie Tobias Neely, Jonathan Martin, Jim Camden, Kevin Blocker and Kristina Johnson contributed to this report.

Changed from the Idaho edition

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = From staff reports Staff writers Adam Lynn, Jennifer Plunkett, Jamie Tobias Neely, Jonathan Martin, Jim Camden, Kevin Blocker and Kristina Johnson contributed to this report.

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