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Avista linemen to work right through Thanksgiving to restore power after windstorm

A large ponderosa pine tree that fell on a house at First Avenue and Oak Street during last week’s windstorm is removed by a crane Wednesday. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
A large ponderosa pine tree that fell on a house at First Avenue and Oak Street during last week’s windstorm is removed by a crane Wednesday. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

More than 100 crews of linemen continued Wednesday to work on the neighborhoods still without power after last week’s windstorm.

Power has been out for nine days for about 12,000 customers and Avista Utilities officials said the company hoped to restore power to most of those people by Wednesday night.

The crews will continue to work on Thanksgiving, with about 5,000 customers expected to remain without power at least through Friday.

Electricity has so far been returned to 93 percent of the 180,000 customers who lost power after one of the region’s worst windstorms on record.

Work is focused on homes within the following ZIP codes: 99203, 99205 and 99223.

In many of the neighborhoods the crews are having to work on damaged power poles and downed wires in backyards that serve perhaps a handful of houses. It makes the job more time consuming, according to Avista.

Inland Power and Light has 50 to 70 outages that are considered complex individual cases that include damaged homes where power cannot be safely restored.

All streets in the city should have been cleared of fallen trees and other debris. If a road is blocked, report the location to the city at 921-1000.

About 400 volunteers have gone to 7,300 homes since last Friday to check on people and hand out extra blankets, food and other necessities.

Avista to use debris as biofuel

Stumps, roots and branches from downed trees will be used in Avista’s biomass electric-generation facility in Kettle Falls, the company announced Wednesday.

In a partnership with the city and county and Cannon Hill Industries, the wood debris will be ground up at the Cannon Hill facility and trucked to Kettle Falls, the city of Spokane said in a news release.

“It’s only appropriate that the destruction that caused mass power outages will now be used to generate electricity for our region,” Spokane Mayor David Condon said in the release.

Wood that can be salvaged for logging or firewood will be separated from the debris.

Free tree and yard waste disposal will be extended through Dec. 6 at the city’s Waste to Energy plant, Northside Landfill and Spokane County’s North County Transfer Station. More than 1,360 tons of debris has so far been dumped. Smaller debris can be placed in curbside clean green bins for regular pickup.

The news release cautioned homeowners that they shouldn’t pay commercial services for disposal of large stumps or other waste if the contractors are taking advantage of free disposal services.

The city has extended curbside yard waste collection for two weeks, through Dec. 18. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, garbage and recycling pickup will be a day late this week.

Police increase patrols

Spokane police have bolstered patrol in the hardest-hit areas to discourage looting of homes after dark.

Residents are encouraged to secure generators and other items and to keep watch in their neighborhoods for suspicious activities.

Agencies offer help

For those without power, warming centers remain open. The Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs has delivered firewood and tarps to cover roofs.

Agencies also released an Emergency Resource Guide consolidating resources and services tied to the windstorm at http://srhd.org/documents/EmergencyResourcesGuide.pdf.

The Red Cross shelter in Spokane Valley and a Girl Scouts shelter closed Wednesday. The agency 2-1-1 will continue to help and be open throughout the weekend.

Current DSHS clients receiving SNAP/Basic Food benefits can request benefits to replace spoiled food, but the request must be received within 10 days of the loss. Call DSHS at 1-877-501-2233.



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