Communities shelter and recover from Snohomish County cold snap

Several communities throughout Snohomish County began recovering from damages caused by heavy snowfall, wind and ice.

Wood chippers arrived at Kayak Point County Park in Stanwood on Tuesday, cleaning up dozens of trees knocked down by about eight inches of snow.

"This snow was just wet and heavy, and there was so much of it, at one point in time, that the trees just couldn’t handle it," said park ranger Alyssa Gorham.

Snow and ice also took out the power and telephone lines at the campsite. Electricity was restored, but Gorham said the cleanup could to take up two weeks. While the park closed for cleanup, the first priority was clearing a path for visitors to get out.

"We had a few campsites that were blocked by trees. We actually had one camper that couldn’t get out until one of the trees were cleared out of the roadway," said Gorham. "There’s loads and loads of giant branches we’re going to have to chip up to get out of the way. A lot of the campsites are full of branches and kind of hard to access at this point."

Multiple cold weather shelters opened in Snohomish County to help people experiencing homelessness as temperatures fell below freezing. Coordinators of the shelter at Everett United Church of Christ said the shelter could stay open possibly for the next 10 days.

The cold snap could not have come at a more critical time. Volunteers throughout the county, including the Stanwood area, conducted its annual Point-In-Time Homeless Count on Tuesday. It’s done through Snohomish County Department of Human Services to determine where resources and money needs to be spent to help end homelessness.

RELATED: Snohomish County’s annual homeless count gets underway

"It gives us a look at who is experiencing homelessness, where they’re sort of at and why. And the reason PIT is conducted in the winter—because everyone says, ‘Why do you do it when it’s so cold?’—Well, it gives us a really accurate representation of who is experiencing homelessness with no resources," said Whitney Summers, housing program manager for Catholic Community Services.

With more people getting off the streets and going to cold weather shelters, those people were also included in the count, which ultimately helps provide a better understanding of how many people are experiencing homelessness in the county.

"The cold weather shelters give us a bigger capacity of shelters at night than just our standard shelters. So a lot of people that wouldn’t normally be in a shelter were last night," said Summers.

The count will help secure state and federal funding in an effort to end homelessness, which is even more important during severe weather events.

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