After the Storm: No Power, No Heat, No Fun
SEATTLE (AP) _ For Diana and David Hemming and their four kids, a storm that knocked out electricity for thousands has meant camping in sleeping bags by the fireplace, no stove, no television, no heat - and no fun.
″One of my children, the first night, said, ’You know, Mom, now I know what it’s like as far as how cold it is for the homeless people. It must be real bad out there,‴ Diana Hemming said from their Redmond-area home 10 miles northeast of Seattle.
The Hemmings and their children - ages 3 to 11 - were among more than 200,000 western Washington residents still without power Friday - two days after a ferocious wind storm lashed the region.
Wednesday’s storm pummeled the region with wind blowing steadily at 50 to 60 mph, with gusts into the 90s, toppling trees, damaging roofs, breaking windows and closing roads. No preliminary damage estimate was available Friday, state officials said.
At least five deaths were blamed on the storm, which at its height knocked out electricity to 750,000 commercial and residential customers. Some outages are expected to last through the weekend, utility officials said.
The Hemmings moved into their new house just last weekend and hadn’t even finished unpacking when the storm hit. Their entire community was knocked out.
The hardest part has been dealing with day-to-day inconveniences. Schools in the area were closed, so Mrs. Hemming has been struggling to keep her children busy and comfortable.
″I’m having a hard time keeping them warm. They won’t stay in the sleeping bags,″ she said.
″Yesterday we went to the Red Cross (shelter) and had breakfast,″ she said.
The Red Cross of King County opened 15 shelters after the storm.
Across the region, people were snatching up survival supplies at grocery stores and supermarkets.
″A lot of people are buying the bare necessities - water, batteries, candles, propane, fuel,″ said Gary Reese, grocery manager at the Town and Country store on Bainbridge Island, a 35-minute ferry ride across Puget Sound from Seattle.
Some islanders gathered to chat and commiserate at the store’s espresso bar.
″You can tell the people that have power and the people that don’t,″ Reese said.
The store also lost power for a few hours Wednesday but stayed open with a backup generator. Reese’s house was still without electricity Friday, but he also was using a generator.
″I bought it ... because a storm we had two years ago dropped two trees on my house and I never felt so unprepared in my life,″ Reese said.