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Avista: Power should have been restored for Spokane, Coeur d’Alene customers by Monday night

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 18, 2021

Lineman Derrick Lonneker, left, and apprentice Kirk Kubic of International Line Builders, Inc. work on a backyard pole replacement near 28th and Ivory in Spokane last week. The number of area residents without power continues to dwindle, as Avista and contractors from crews such as International Line Builders work to restore power from a destructive windstorm last Wednesday.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Lineman Derrick Lonneker, left, and apprentice Kirk Kubic of International Line Builders, Inc. work on a backyard pole replacement near 28th and Ivory in Spokane last week. The number of area residents without power continues to dwindle, as Avista and contractors from crews such as International Line Builders work to restore power from a destructive windstorm last Wednesday. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Those still without power in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Kellogg were expected to have service restored by the end of Monday, the sixth day of power outages caused by a severe windstorm.

As of 1:30 p.m. Monday, fewer than 2,000 Avista customers still were without power. Most of those outages were located in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Kellogg, Idaho.

About six hours later at 6:30 p.m. less than 780 customers were without power, the majority of those living in the Coeur d’Alene and Kellogg, Idaho area.

According to a news release from Avista, power should have been fully restored late Monday night.

Avista had around 460 employees working on power restoration Monday.

About 70,000 Avista customers lost power after Wednesday’s windstorm, which also knocked down telecommunication lines, caused natural gas leaks and knocked trees and debris into homes and streets.

The day of the storm, more than 100,000 people were without power across the Inland Northwest, but most smaller providers, such as Vera Water and Power and Inland Power and Light, have since restored service to their customers.

Many Spokane residents who have been without power have tried to buy generators, or checked into a hotel until they have power again. Delon Burkhart, who lives on the South Hill, was still without power Monday morning, but now has a generator after her adult children worked together to find one for her.

“My kids said this could go on for a long time,” she said.

She said some of her neighbors had no choice but to find somewhere else to stay because they only had electric heat, but she was able to stay in her home despite having no power since Wednesday because she has a gas fireplace. She said her children worked together to buy her a generator in Yakima and bring it over, so now she has access to hot coffee and a phone charger.

Burkhart said she is concerned about COVID-19, and was worried about potential exposure if she went to stay in a hotel or somewhere else. She said she is grateful for how hard Avista employees were working to restore power, but said she, and likely many others, are feeling overwhelmed and tired.

“People are already weary. You can’t go anywhere, you can’t go out to eat, you can’t cook because it’s dark,” she said. “This is just one more layer.”

She said one of the more challenging aspects of the outage was trying to teach. Burkhart is a teacher at Hamblen Elementary School who had been working virtually because of the pandemic. She went into Hamblen last week after school resumed because she was without power and internet. {%%note} {/%%note}

Burkhart’s neighbor Bethany McMulkin, who is a teacher in the Central Valley School District, said she’s been able to make due without power after a friend loaned her family a generator. She said Central Valley also has gone back to in-person learning, so she didn’t need to have her internet service for work.

She said the family did try to prepare for wind and ice storms after the 2015 windstorm, but the generator they purchased then broke recently, and they had to rely on a friend’s to get through the last week.

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