November 25, 1996 in Nation/World

Power Still A Week Away For Some Residents Of About 4,000 Area Homes Warned Not To Expect Electricity Until After Thanksgiving

By The Spokesman-Review
 

No one’s talking turkey. Another four days without power seems unimaginable - impossible - in light of the last five days already spent in the dark.

It’s one day at a time for the people in north Spokane’s Waikiki neighborhood who learned over the weekend that power probably won’t be restored there until after Thanksgiving.

Residents staying in this forested pocket of homes near Whitworth College have learned to turn their frozen yards into refrigerators, their fireplaces into shrines and their winter clothing into pajamas.

They’re not leaving. And, no, they don’t really want to talk about their holiday plans. For many, those plans are still in the dark.

“We’re supposed to have Thanksgiving here,” said Colleen Lochhead, holed up in the family home on North Elma Drive with her husband, two sons, two nieces and two dogs.

But they probably won’t - unless the power pops back on or a turkey cooks on a butane stove. Lunch on Sunday was peanut butter and jelly. Dinner was planned at the grandparents’ house in Spokane.

On Sunday, about 24,000 homes in Spokane County still were without electricity. Power was restored to some homes and lost at others, knocked out by the latest storm.

But families living in about 4,000 homes expected more of the same, having learned that their neighborhoods were hit especially hard by the storms. Residents of the Waikiki, Shady Slope and the south Valley’s Ponderosa and Painted Hills areas might not have power until next weekend, according to Washington Water Power Co.

About 2,000 homes are in the Waikiki neighborhood, a name that usually conjures images of Hawaii and palm trees. Here, it’s Siberia and cracking pines.

“It was fun for the first three days. It was an adventure,” said Lochhead, squeezing a stubborn bottle of dishwashing liquid over the kitchen sink. “But now, when it starts getting this cold, and this (dishwashing liquid) starts coagulating.”

The neighborhood’s huge pines, swaying under heavy ice and snow, leaned on homes and power lines Sunday. Many of the homes were empty, abandoned for warmer quarters. But there were signs of life here and there - a humming generator, a barking dog, a snow blower, a pile of groceries in the front yard.

Occasionally, there was a loud pop. Another tree crashing down. But these shell-shocked people scarcely noticed.

“That’s kind of how it is around here,” said Jeff Lochhead, 16, with a shrug as a huge branch broke a few houses down, crashing in a shower of snow.

During the crisis, many neighbors have bonded. Those with butane heaters and gas stoves cook for those without. They share generators and firewood. They dream of a day with lights. And hot water.

“I haven’t taken a shower since last Tuesday,” said Jane Duffy, who wore a blue stocking cap, four shirts, a coat, two pairs of pants and socks, and an old pair of shoes.

“I think I’d like to take a shower, wash my hair.”

When Duffy and her husband, Bill, both 78, woke up Sunday, the temperature inside their home on Ardmore was 43 degrees. They store milk, orange juice and yogurt outside, by the front door. They go out for one big meal a day, usually at the Country Cousin Barbecue on Division.

Neighbors have kept the Duffys supplied with coffee and hot soup. On Sunday, it was split pea. Bill Duffy ran a generator to try to pump up the heat.

They sleep in their winter clothes. They sit in front of the fire. They pray for power.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, my God. God, turn it on today,”’ said Jane Duffy, who added that the first meal she’d cook might be a turkey.

Like the Duffys, the Lochhead family has adjusted to the cold, developing a new routine.

Entertainment is sparse. Family members take turns sitting on a chair plopped in front of a fire. They stay warm in their beds, smothered under 10 covers.

They got really excited Sunday morning when they watched workers pull three trees downed by Tuesday’s ice storm off power lines in their back yard.

The kids are thrilled, because there’s been no school. Drew Lochhead, 14, went skiing twice. But there’s a point where the obvious hits them like a falling tree branch.

“It wouldn’t be so bad, if we just had heat,” Drew Lochhead said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Color photos Map: Major areas without power


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