Residents in north Spokane clean up, assess and wait for power to return after storm
Molly Conant was sitting on her couch Wednesday afternoon when she decided to get up and go into the kitchen. It’s a decision that may have saved her life.
One of two huge pine trees in her front yard came crashing into her living room during the thunderstorm that hit her neighborhood near Joe Albi Stadium hard.
“All I heard was glass breaking, a big crash,” Conant said. “I grabbed my little dog and started running. The ceiling was coming down.”
Like many in her neighborhood and other areas of Spokane County, Conant and her fiancé, Scott Chestnutt, spent Thursday assessing the damage and cleaning up the mess. Their neighborhood was one of several still without power 24 hours later as Avista struggled with downed power lines and snapped power poles.
Chestnutt surveyed the damage Thursday as crews from Belfor Property Restoration worked to remove the tree from his house and a second tree in his yard that fell on his neighbor’s house.
“An arborist told me they were saplings when Lewis and Clark went through,” he said of the two massive trees.
His next door neighbor David Powell was taking a nap Wednesday afternoon when the second tree smashed through the roof above him. “I heard the roof cracking,” he said.
“Thank heaven, he jumped up out of the bed,” said his wife, Linda Powell. “Someone was watching over him.”
David Powell escaped major injury by jumping out of bed, but went to the emergency room Thursday morning to have a large bruise on his back checked out after the falling ceiling delivered a glancing blow. He received a clean bill of health.
Chestnutt and Conant had a backyard wedding planned in three weeks, but crews think it will take two to three months to repair his house.
“I’m without a house,” he said. “We slept in the car at the VA (last night). No trees around.”
A couple of blocks away Zac Davidson took a break after cutting two trees in his yard that demolished his deck, took out a fence and sliced through his large shop.
“I had probably $30,000 in tools right where the tree is,” he said, pointing to his shop.
Davidson and his family were in the Tri-Cities on Wednesday when neighbors began to call with the news of the destruction in his yard. “It’s quite a sight to come home to,” he said.
But their home was undamaged and a Blazer and two trucks were unscathed.
“It was kind of a scary deal,” he said. “I’m glad no one was hurt. It is what it is. It can all be replaced.”
Numerous streets near Joe Albi were still blocked by fallen trees and downed power lines Thursday afternoon. An 80-foot-tall pine tree lay toppled across the 4100 block of East Queen Avenue with at least one car trapped beneath it.
Traffic was heavy in the Northwest Spokane neighborhood Thursday as many drivers stopped to gawk at the damage.
The blocked streets slowed trash pickup in some areas of Spokane. The city advises residents to put their trash out again today if it wasn’t picked up Thursday.
The scene was much the same in the Wandermere area. Russell Edwards was visiting his mother on Regina Drive Wednesday afternoon. He was sitting in his car in her driveway preparing to leave for work when the storm hit.
“A tree from across the street got uprooted and fell on my car,” he said. “If I would have pulled out maybe 10 seconds earlier, I would have probably been crushed.”
Instead the tree broke out his back window and smashed the rear end of his car, leaving Edwards unscathed.
On Thursday Jon Amend, an off-duty volunteer firefighter with Spokane County Fire District 9, cut and removed the tree that hit Edwards’ car. Amend said he heard there was damage in the area and just drove around until he found someone who needed help. By that time the tree had been removed from the road but it was in huge chunks. “To get it out, he had to get it cut into smaller pieces,” Amend said. “I just spent some time working with him and helping out.”
Amend, who didn’t charge any money for his assistance, stayed until his chain saw ran out of gas.
The Indian Trail neighborhood also was hit hard and power still was out Thursday evening for many homes and businesses. The Indian Trail Library had its power restored around midday Thursday but as of Thursday afternoon the Indian Trail Yoke’s was still without electricity.
The man who was impaled by a branch when his car was struck by a tree while driving in the storm in Chattaroy is in stable condition at a local hospital, Capt. Megan Hill of Spokane Fire District 4 said Thursday afternoon.
The man, who was on Big Meadows Road near Yale Road, was airlifted from the scene Wednesday afternoon. A large tree branch pierced his abdomen, but Hill said it missed all major arteries and surgery to remove the branch was successful.
“He’s got a long road to recovery,” Hill said
Two small fires were reported on the Colville National Forest following the storm, but Forest Service officials won’t know the full extent of the fire danger until temperatures heat up this weekend.
Temperatures are expected to return to the 80s and 90s, which could cause small, smoldering fires to flare up, said Franklin Pemberton, a Forest Service spokesman.
The storm also resulted in quarter-size hail falling in Kettle Falls and uprooted a tree that injured two people at an Idaho Panhandle National Forests campground on Lake Pend Oreille.
A man and a woman were taken to the Bonner General Hospital after they were struck by the falling tree. The man had minor injuries, but the woman’s injuries were more extensive, said Capt. Jason Cordle of the Sagle Fire Department, which responded to the call. The individuals’ names and ages were not available.
Becky Kramer and Kip Hill contributed to this report.