People stuck in elevators, carbon monoxide filling houses, closed roads and failed medical equipment all resulted from Thursday’s wind storm, which knocked out power to Whidbey Island.
A Puget Sound Energy spokesperson said all 37,000 of its customers were affected during the storm’s peak. Around 15,000 were still without power Friday afternoon.
“It’s just one of those things that you can never truly understand what kind of damage it’s going to do,” said North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Mark Kirko.
Fire districts called in as many volunteers as could respond during a busy day and night’s worth of work. Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue responded to around 50 wind-related calls Thursday, according to Fire Chief Ed Hartin.
Most of the calls related to trees and power lines down. Two power lines fell on top of cars, and although the people inside were uninjured, they were trapped in the vehicles for about an hour, Hartin said.
Two houses and the Greenbank Progressive Club were significantly damaged by downed trees as well, he said. There were no reported injuries.
Hartin said the district received multiple calls about the surf coming ashore and flooding the road at Keystone Avenue, but no one required assistance at the time.
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue responded to around 40 calls, although Kirko said Friday morning he was still compiling exact numbers.
Late Thursday night and early Friday morning, the district received several calls related to carbon monoxide issues caused by improper use of generators or propane devices, he said. Often the issues were caused by the gasoline-powered devices being run inside garages or close to openings in the house, he said.
“I urge people to be careful with the use of generators and heating units,” he said.
There were serious issues caused by downed power lines in areas north of Oak Harbor city limits and on the northeastern side of the island.
It took several hours to clear areas on Koontz and Jones roads and Troxel Road. As of Friday morning, Silver Lake Road was still closed because of downed power lines, he said.
There were no reports of injuries or houses struck by trees in the district.
The Oak Harbor Fire Department had around 20 calls during the storm, according to Fire Chief Ray Merrill.
He also received reports of issues caused by the misuse of generators. One person’s dog was locked inside a garage that couldn’t be opened because a generator was not hooked up correctly.
“We got the dog out for him, so it was safe,” Merrill said.
These issues were the result of people not using a transfer switch and instead plugging the devices directly into an outlet. He said this causes the energy to back feed into Puget Sound Energy’s grid and overheats the generator.
Firefighters rescued two people stuck in elevators that stopped when the power went out, he said. First responders also helped people up stairs who were in wheelchairs when there weren’t other options.
There were several car accidents from people who went through intersections with traffic lights that weren’t working. If the lights aren’t operational, cars are supposed to treat it like a four-way-stop intersection.
No injuries were reported due to the storm.
“It was all minor stuff,” said Merrill. “I think we fared pretty doggone well.”