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Monday, June 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Frustration rises among the last residents without power

Spokane resident Caroline Yu said she wished that she could have had a better timeline as to when her power was going to be turned back on. She and her family were planning to  spend Thanksgiving with relatives because her power had not been restored. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane resident Caroline Yu said she wished that she could have had a better timeline as to when her power was going to be turned back on. She and her family were planning to spend Thanksgiving with relatives because her power had not been restored. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The number of people in Spokane without power continues to decline with each passing day. But for some of those who were still in the dark as Thanksgiving Day dawned, frustration was rising.

“Had I known it (power) was going to be out for so long I would have gone out of town,” said Caroline Yu, who lives in one of the South Hill neighborhoods hardest hit by the windstorm. Her home has been without power since Tuesday, Nov. 17.

“It’s not that I’m suffering,” she said. “I don’t feel like Avista is being honest with me.”

Yu, whose power was restored Thursday afternoon, said she’s one of the luckier Spokane residents who lost power. Her family has the money to stay in hotels, or even leave town for a while. They spent time at a friend’s home while they waited.

Still, she questions Avista’s communication response to the windstorm that flattened trees and shattered the power grid. According to Yu, she was told several times that her home would have power soon. Avista even told her a specific hour to expect the lights to turn on.

Debbie Simock, a spokeswoman for Avista, said the nature of the storm made it hard to give accurate estimates.

“In this storm there was so much damage, and a lot of that damage was not fully discovered until crews arrived at the site to begin repairs and then they find that it’s much worse,” Simock said. “There are so many unknowns during the restoration process.”

She said assessors would check sites, but once crews started working they would discover unknown obstacles that often set the whole restoration back.

Yu said she appreciates the complexity of the task, but still thinks Avista has tried to sugarcoat the scale of the outages.

“How could you think, after the extent of the damage, that it is only a three- to five-day project?” Yu said.

When the power first went out Yu was told that it would be three to five days, so she went to Seattle with her children. They returned on Saturday night after Avista told her that they would have power by 6 a.m. Sunday.

They woke up to a dark house.

Yu had planned on hosting a large Thanksgiving dinner at her home. She said if Avista had told her from the beginning that she’d likely have no power come Thanksgiving, she would have gone to California to spend time with family there.

“Each storm has it’s own personality, regardless of where you are,” Simock said. “We know it’s been a long process and it’s really challenging, and we are all ready to have this event behind us.”

“We were able to make good progress,” Simock said. “Which is good news on Thanksgiving.”

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