Power slowly coming back on, but about 9,000 still without

AUBURN, Wash. -- About 9,000 customers are without power as the Puget Sound region wakes up to another cold and crisp day.

Puget Sound Energy has restored power to more than 214,000 customers since the damaging winds hit our region, the utility reported Thursday morning.

In a press release PSE said that the focus of restoration work remains in south King County, where the damage has been the most severe, and where winds continue to blow.

"We’re continuing to work on several badly damaged transmission lines. This remains a priority. Once they’re back online, many more customers will get power. Then, we can concentrate on the smaller lines that feed power to many neighborhoods and communities. This work is often the most time consuming as those crews make individual repairs scattered over widespread areas.

We will have 60 line crews in the field today. These are the 4-man crews who work in the larger power trucks. We’re still being assisted by crews from other utilities."

PSE said most of the outages were in Auburn, Enumclaw, Federal Way and Kent and some scattered ones in Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Covington, Ravensdale, Renton, SeaTac, Sedro-Woolley and Tacoma.

In Enumclaw, those homeowners still in the dark were filling up with fuel to power their generators. Many of them lost power Tuesday afternoon.

“The wind doesn’t bother me, but when it takes out the power, it causes some problems,” said resident Wolf Warrior.

To help restore the power, Puget Sound Energy added crews from Canada, Oregon, and Eastern Washington.  Strong winds damaged poles and transmissions lines, which serve a large number of customers.

“You could hear the branches banging and cracking against the house,” Auburn resident Dennis Allen said.

Tuesday night’s howling winds uprooted a giant tree, splitting an Auburn home in half.

“That went right through the living room. If they were in the living room at that time, it could have been very bad,” Allen said.

Allen is grateful his neighbors are OK. A tree also crashed into his house overnight but the damage is nothing compared to his neighbors.

“It looks like one of the branches pierced a hole through the roof,” Allen said.

He is more concerned about his cars trapped under a mountain of branches.

“Saw the tree laying on all three cars on our driveway,” Allen said.

The storm kept residents on 40th Avenue South in Auburn up all night. Some people left their homes and found another place to stay.

“Our younger daughters were crying and they didn`t want to camp out in the house so we left,” Auburn resident Adam Fobes said.

“The wind sounded like it was going to tear my house apart,” Dane Anders said.

His home made it through the storm but their backyard fence did not.

“We are lucky,” Anders said.

Anders is counting his blessings as he helped his parents clean up.

They are not alone -- even utility crews found themselves buried under debris. It was a dicey situation when a power line fell on to a utility truck on Enchanted Parkway. It’s the same site where nearly 20 power poles are down and need to be repaired.

“The trees came down, broke power lines, trapping the bucket,” Potelco Inc. spokesman Dean Davis said.

A quarter-mile stretch of Enchanted Parkway was shut down at about 10 p.m. Tuesday when power lines came down.  Crews worked around the clock, and the parkway was reopened at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

In the meantime, residents like Dennis Allen will rely on generator power to keep the lights on and the house warm with another freezing night ahead.

PSE says their priority is to repair power lines servicing substations that provide power to a large number of customers. They are asking customers to be prepared because many could be in the cold until Friday.