Issaquah Community Center offers residents shelter

January 24, 2012

The mercury dipped and the lights turned dark as crews raced to restore power across the region.

The city and the American Red Cross partnered to turn the Issaquah Community Center into a 24-hour shelter amid a dayslong blackout. The refuge opened late Jan. 19, after a rare ice storm sent tree limbs tumbling to earth and snow lingered on roadways.

Barry Morgan (right), American Red Cross volunteer, registers the 100th client at the Issaquah Community Center at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 for a place to stay. Volunteer Stan McKenzie and service dog Katsu are at left. By Greg Farrar

The shelter provided 35 shelter nights — or number of overnight stays — to residents from Issaquah and other Eastside communities. Teams at the shelter handled 244 drop-in visits, and served 778 snacks and meals to clients.

Some shelter clients spread out on cots for the night. Other people stopped in for a hot snack or a hotter shower. The shelter offered some a chance to unwind after stressful days in powerless residences.

“They were feeling cooped up in the house with the kids in particular,” said Stephanie Schoo, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit organization. “It was good to have a warm, safe place for the kids to get to play and sprawl out.”

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Issaquah Community Center shelter is open for another night

January 21, 2012

UPDATED — 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21, 2012

The 24-hour shelter at the Issaquah Community Center is open for another night Saturday, as power returns to many customers and the need decreases.

The shelter, 301 Rainier Blvd. S., hosted 24 people overnight Friday, as power remained out for many residents in the Issaquah area. Many other people stopped in throughout the day for snacks and warmth.

The shelter is scheduled to close Sunday, American Red Cross officials announced Saturday night.

Meanwhile, city crews and residents continued recovery efforts. Only a section of a Squak Mountain street — Southwest Ellerwood Street — remained closed Saturday afternoon, after crews toiled Friday to clear downed trees from roadways.

Community Emergency Response Teams also fanned out across the city to distribute leaflets about the community center shelter, a joint effort between the city and the American Red Cross.

People intending to spend the night at the shelter should bring prescription and emergency medications; extra clothing, pillows, blankets, toiletries and other comfort items; and important documents.

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Crews restore power to some Issaquah residents, but others wait

January 20, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. Jan. 20, 2012

Puget Sound Energy crews had restored power to many Issaquah neighborhoods by early Friday evening, but large swaths remained in the dark as workers race to restore power across the region.

Downtown residents reported power coming back just after 5:30 p.m. Crews restored power for residents in some areas, including the Issaquah Highlands, late Thursday.

Puget Sound Energy estimated 8,876 customers in Issaquah without power early Friday evening — down from about 18,000 customers without power midday Thursday. Crews continue to work on restoring power to the areas left in the dark.

Still, despite the success, officials remained concerned about the possibility of additional weather challenges in the days ahead.

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Officials urge residents to check on elderly neighbors as outage lingers

January 20, 2012

NEW — 11 a.m. Jan. 20, 2012

The pummeling from winter weather for several days means many people, especially senior citizens and people of limited mobility, have been stuck at home for almost a week.

Officials urged residents in Issaquah and elsewhere in King County to check on people in their neighborhoods to see if they need assistance. Consider inviting people without power to a warm place to heat up amid the ongoing power outage.

(Puget Sound Energy estimated about 11,000 customers without power in Issaquah early Thursday morning.)

Residents can also seek refuge at a 24-hour shelter at the Issaquah Community Center, 301 Rainer Blvd. S. The shelter is operated by the city and the American Red Cross.

Officials also reminded people to limit calls to 911 to actual emergencies.

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Issaquah Community Center opens as 24-hour shelter

January 19, 2012

Barry Morgan (right), American Red Cross volunteer, registers the 100th client at the Issaquah Community Center at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 for a place to stay. Volunteer Stan McKenzie and service dog Katsu are at left. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 9:20 p.m. Jan. 19, 2012

The city and the American Red Cross partnered to turn the Issaquah Community Center into a shelter for people without heat and power.

The 24-hour shelter opened Thursday night at the community center, 301 Rainier Blvd. S.

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City activates Emergency Operations Center, Eastside Fire & Rescue opens shelters

January 19, 2012

NEW — 5:10 p.m. Jan. 19, 2012

City officials opened the Emergency Operations Center on Thursday afternoon to coordinate the response to a major snowstorm and ice storm, and subsequent power outages across Issaquah and the region.

The decision came as more than 18,000 customers in Issaquah faced nightfall without power and temperatures in the low 30s. Puget Sound Energy is in the midst of a colossal effort to restore power to about 200,000 customers in Western Washington. In a tweet posted at 4:59 p.m., PSE said people without power should not expect to have power restored Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Eastside Fire & Rescue opened Fire Station 82, 1851 228th Ave. N.E., and Fire Station 83, 3425 Issaquah-Pine Lake Road S.E., as warming shelters.

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Off the Press

January 17, 2012

Lessons learned in fire and ice

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

Journalism often requires reporters to meet people under undesirable circumstances — behind police tape or against a flickering backdrop of emergency lights.

Under such circumstances, we strive for compassion, but sometimes, we forget about the people on the other side of the notebook amid the clamor to chase down a story or ferret out some key detail.

I experienced a story on the other side of the notebook early Jan. 16 and, hopefully, came away a little more enlightened and understanding.

Just before 4 a.m., a neighbor pounded on the door to my apartment in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.

“Get out! There’s a fire!” he yelled, and then headed down the corridor to warn sleeping occupants in other apartments.

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Seeking local ties to devastating Turkey earthquake

October 25, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. Oct. 25, 2011

Rescuers continue to search for people trapped amid rubble after a strong earthquake rattled Turkey on Oct. 23.

The magnitude-7.2 earthquake is the most powerful to hit Turkey in more than a decade and, so far, has claimed almost 300 lives. The temblor struck a remote region near the Iranian border.

The Issaquah Press seeks Issaquah School District residents connected to the earthquake or involved in relief efforts.

Email your contact information to reporter Warren Kagarise at, or contact the paper on Twitter or Facebook by noon Friday.

Turkey received aid offers from dozens of nations around the globe, but so far has not accepted international aid.

Turkish Red Crescent is among the largest disaster response organizations in Europe. The organization is prepared to respond to large earthquakes. Officials at the American Red Cross and local international relief organizations, including Medical Teams International, continue to monitor the situation, in case Turkey requests assistance.

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King County reminds locals to prepare after Vancouver Island earthquake

September 9, 2011

NEW — 2:10 p.m. Sept. 9, 2011

Many King County and West Coast residents felt the earth tremble Friday afternoon as a magnitude-6.4 earthquake occurred off Vancouver Island.

The tremor struck at 12:41 p.m. at about 14 miles beneath the surface. The earthquake occurred about 170 miles west of Vancouver. Residents as far south as Seattle reported feeling the tremor.

King County Executive Dow Constantine used the earthquake as a reminder for local residents to prepare.

“Over the past 10 years, in concert with our regional partners, we have worked to build a whole-community approach to disaster planning, response and recovery,” he said in a statement. “Strong communities begin with each of us making a personal commitment to prepare, and then reaching out to our neighbors to build the networks that will be crucial when disaster strikes.”

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County employees aid disaster victims across Pacific

July 5, 2011

King County employees donated more than 8,100 hours of accrued leave to disaster victims in Japan and New Zealand.

The county converted leave from 458 employees into a $286,815 cash donation to the American Red Cross for continuing earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

“This outpouring of support for our neighbors across the Pacific is another example of the determination to make a difference,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “I am so proud of King County employees for donating their hard-earned leave to help the people of Japan and New Zealand as they continue to recover from these tragic events.”

Constantine authorized the leave donation program in March, shortly after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan. Because that disaster followed a major earthquake in New Zealand, the county opted to combine efforts and help the victims of both disasters.

The county enacted a similar donation program after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Following that disaster, 367 employees donated more than 5,500 hours of leave, or almost $200,000 for Global Impact, a federation of 55 international aid agencies.

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