The Great Seattle Windstorm of 2006 – Aftermath

At 11:10 AM today our power came back on. It had been off for 3 ½ days (actually just under 83 hours). With temperatures outside dipping into the 20s, the temperature inside the house dropped to 46 degrees.

It turns out that the storm was the worst in recent years and apparently only topped by the Great Columbus Day Storm of 1962 which had winds on the coast of over 200 miles per hour. This one was relatively mild with wind on the coast only reaching about 110…

While we had much less damage to our house than in the Great Inaugural Day Storm of 1993, (note a naming theme here?) the damage to the local electrical infrastructure was greater. Roads all around Bridle Trails Park were either closed or had lane closures due to downed trees and telephone poles. With hundreds of power crews working the area including crews brought in from half a dozen states we still had half a million people without power yesterday. Overall, the estimate is that two million people lost power for a significant amount of time from this storm. Even Microsoft lost power for the first time any of us could remember.

At Microsoft, where emergency power was available in the labs and in marked power outlets in the hallways, people were camping out in the offices and cooking dinner in microwave ovens brought from the break rooms into the hallways.

But today at 11:10 AM things for us began to return to normal. Brandy arrived last night so she only had to have one night camping in a house where you could watch your breath. Overall, though, considering that this was a storm on the order of a Category 3 hurricane, everything came back together well. People helped each other. Radio stations set up phone banks for people with items to provide and items needed including things like housing, places to take a hot bath or firewood. Despite a multi-day blackout in a major city there was no looting and no crime. Stores opened by flashlight with just a cashbox and a pencil and paper for inventory and they sold what they could at normal prices. There was none of the price gouging you see so often in other disasters. The automated phone message on the power company’s emergency line had to insert a line thanking all the people who kept bringing the repair crews coffee and food while they worked. In my mom’s condo complex, people went door-to-door to check that everyone was OK. One woman put up signup sheets for people to put in lists of items they needed from the outside since she didn’t think it was right to go out and not pick up supplies for anyone else who needed something.

People all around the area saw the disaster as a chance to help and not as their chance to make a fast buck at their neighbor’s suffering.

In short, Seattle was Seattle.

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