Phone calls from anxious campers are pouring into Priest Lake State Park.
The office is swamped with reservation requests, but often the phones just ring and ring and ring.
Park employees aren’t being rude - they’re just in the dark.
For nine weeks, the park has been without power, along with the rest of the neighborhood on the east side of Priest Lake.
“It’s getting kind of old,” said Rick Samples, assistant manager of the park.
With no power, the answering machine doesn’t work. So if an employee isn’t in the office, the phone calls go unanswered.
“The phone rings constantly up there this time of year,” said Margaret Bradshaw, who handles most of the reservations.
Bradshaw packed up her office computer and hauled it home. Now she’s pawing through 300 to 400 pieces of mail, looking for the earliest postmarked applications to fill first.
“We kept hoping the power would get back on, and finally I said, ‘I’m getting so far behind, this is getting ridiculous.”’
Competition for campsites at Indian Creek Campground on popular weekends is so intense that even if an application comes in by Jan. 2, the first day that reservations can be made, “it’s still a lottery,” she said.
Severe winter storms in late November dumped more than 40 inches of snow on Priest Lake, toppling trees and snapping power poles. Power is restored to all areas except parts of the east side of the lake, plus the road between Outlet Bay and Hill’s Resort.
Only about half a dozen families have been affected because few people live on the lake year-round. Nearly everyone without power has a generator, said Shirley Garrett of the Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce.
“They don’t have all the conveniences, but they’re taken care of,” she said.
Northern Lights expects to have power to the park by next week.