Issaquah’s bill for response to January storms tops $500,000

February 21, 2012

The city’s initial tally for response and cleanup from the January snowstorm and subsequent ice storm reached $530,000 — although the number could shrink if federal officials release dollars for disaster efforts.

Officials used the dollars to put snowplows on Issaquah streets in 24-hour stretches, clear fallen trees and haul off debris.

The city could receive federal dollars as a reimbursement if President Barack Obama declares the January storms as a federal disaster. Such a decision means local governments could apply for reimbursements for emergency response and cleanup activities.

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Cleanup from storms could last for weeks in Issaquah

January 31, 2012

Terry Hillier, a Capella Drive Northwest resident, unloads branches from his station wagon Jan. 28 at Tibbetts Valley Park. By Greg Farrar

In the days after snow and ice hobbled Issaquah and the region, crews deployed across the city to collect sand from streets and downed trees from neighborhoods.

The recovery effort lurched into gear before snow and ice melted, but city residents and officials continue a daunting task to clean up from the recent storms and prepare for possible conditions in the months ahead.

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Cleanup continues after snowstorm and ice cause havoc

January 24, 2012

State Route 900 remains barricaded at midafternoon Jan. 20 to motorists wanting to go southbound past Northwest Talus Drive, a day after a downed tree blocked access to the urban village. By Greg Farrar

In the days after a snowstorm pummeled the region, blackout chased whiteout, as residents uneasy about thorny commutes and missed meetings instead confronted sinking temperatures and toppling trees — all sans electricity.

The major snowstorm dropped 3 to 6 inches across the Issaquah area Jan. 18, but the struggle started the next day, as a rare ice storm led to widespread power outages and caused trees to send ice- and snow-laden branches earthward.

The harsh conditions tested road crews, prompted spinouts and fender benders around the region, and led officials to cancel school for almost a week.

“It was like a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 punch,” Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said Jan. 23, as cleanup efforts continued. “For awhile there, I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Tree cleanup is latest headache for storm-weary residents

January 24, 2012

Fallen tree branches, scattered across the landscape like so many broken Lincoln Logs, continue to bedevil road crews and residents days after a major snowstorm and crippling ice storm rolled across Western Washington.

The task to clean up downed trees posed a challenge as the region faced a long power outage and difficult road conditions.

“From a tree damage standpoint, this has been very high,” city Arborist Alan Haywood said Jan. 23. “It’s not as catastrophic as the big windstorms we’ve had, because we did not have many real large trees come down and come down on houses and do that kind of damage.”

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Snowplow crews toil day and night to clear Issaquah streets

January 24, 2012

Come winter, the nonstop struggle between man and Mother Nature unfolds in a teeth-rattling ride aboard city snowplows.

Kyle Patterson, a city snowplow driver, maneuvers through the Montreux neighborhood to remove snow from streets Tuesday afternoon. By Warren Kagarise

Snow, split into quarters from tire tracks, clung to the streets just before sunset Jan. 17 in Montreux, a tony neighborhood on Cougar Mountain named for a city in the Swiss Alps. In methodical maneuvers, city snowplow driver Kyle Patterson edged back and forth along cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac, pushing snow from the roadway to form dirt-flecked berms along the street.

In the process, snow cascades from the plow and light powder is compacted into something more akin to spackle.

Each large snowplow truck in the city fleet resembles a mustard-yellow box atop gargantuan tires, a Tonka toy for a giant. Empty, a large truck tips the scales at about 30,000 pounds. Loaded, full of sand and de-icing fluid, the total balloons to about 60,000 pounds.

(The city operates seven snowplow trucks, a larger model for main roads and a smaller model for difficult-to-maneuver side streets.)

The drivers, dressed in fluorescent jackets the same color as a highlighter pen, ride in the snowplow cabs beneath a flashing amber light. Most drivers use earplugs to block noise from the rumbling engine and brakes screeching like a pterodactyl.

The job requires a nimble hand on the steering wheel and the levers used to manipulate the plow — not to mention patience, precision and pluck — for the lumbering trucks remain susceptible to the same road hazards as other vehicles, despite the bulk and chains meant to ensure traction.

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Fire destroys Tiger Mountain home, dogs perish

January 24, 2012

Flames sparked by a generator in a garage caused a blaze and destroyed a Tiger Mountain house near Issaquah.

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County permitting agency waives fees for damage inspections

January 24, 2012

Unincorporated King County residents facing damage from recent snow and ice storms can receive building inspections compliments of the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services.

The agency waived the associated fee to help homeowners speed up repairs. The county permitting agency is also giving priority service to damaged structures in need of permits for repair work.

Inspectors evaluate the integrity of structures, assess whether a structure is safe to occupy and decide whether a permit is required for repair work.

Inspectors may also advise customers of the need to pursue a more detailed inspection from a licensed structural engineer to determine the extent of the damage.

Though the fee for inspections is waived, standard permit fees still apply. Permits may be required before performing certain nonbuilding-related repairs, such as hazardous tree removal, if trees sit in environmentally critical areas. But permits can be issued retroactively if a tree poses imminent danger to people or property.

Call 206-296-6630 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, to request a damage inspection.

Permits can be issued over the counter at the Department of Development and Environmental Services office, 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., Renton, for minor repairs.

Contact Bernard Moore, building inspection supervisor, at 206-296-6762, or bernard.moore@kingcounty.gov; or Chris Ricketts, building official, at 206-296-6750, or chris.ricketts@kingcounty.gov, to learn more.

Diners share storm stories at 12th Ave. Café

January 24, 2012

As of about 11 a.m. Jan. 21, the 12th Ave. Café in the Issaquah Commons was packed. Every table was filled and a dozen or so people waited in the small area in the front of the eatery for their chance to sit down.

A hostess for the café, Ashley Hutchinson, was one of the several employees rushing around the very busy restaurant. During a brief respite after taking a to-go order, Hutchinson said the café had reopened the morning of Jan. 20 after closing early the morning of the day before due to a loss of power brought on by the storms that hit Jan. 18.

While the café was open Jan. 20, most of Northwest Gilman Boulevard still seemed dark and oddly deserted that afternoon. The only store obviously up and running was QFC supermarket, open thanks to a generator and seemingly doing a very brisk business.

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Snowstorm, ice and aftermath in Issaquah / Jan. 16-20, 2012

January 24, 2012

Tree cleanup is latest headache for storm-weary residents

January 23, 2012

NEW — 8:15 p.m. Jan. 23, 2012

Fallen tree branches, scattered across the landscape like so many broken Lincoln Logs, continue to bedevil road crews and residents days after a major snowstorm and crippling ice storm rolled across Western Washington.

The task to clean up downed trees posed a challenge as the region faced a long power outage and difficult road conditions.

“From a tree damage standpoint, this has been very high,” city Arborist Alan Haywood said Jan. 23. “It’s not as catastrophic as the big windstorms we’ve had, because we did not have many real large trees come down and come down on houses and do that kind of damage.”

Downed trees on roadways prompted closures on city, county and state roads in Issaquah and nearby areas. Some homeowners reported damage from falling branches.

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