Storm hit Index particularly hard, bringing down hundreds of trees

EVERETT — Well, the dry spell is over.

That much was clear after last week’s massive storm of water and wind.

Snohomish County is collecting damage reports from property owners, Emergency Management Director John Pennington said. As of Wednesday morning, reports had come in for 66 homes and 10 businesses, he said. Of the homes, 12 had major damage or were destroyed.

“The numbers are going to go up. There’s no question,” he said. “We are going to work very hard to advocate for and seek federal assistance for homeowners.”

Some had flooding damage, lost goods from power outages or downed trees, though some were a combination. Those totals don’t include the Index area, which might have been hit the hardest, Pennington said. He visited the upper Skykomish River Valley on Monday.

“Index clearly received a lot of wind damage,” he said. “A lot of it’s already been cleaned out, but it’s abundantly clear that something very dramatic happened with the wind.”

Index Mayor Bruce Albert said folks in the small town have been working together to pick up after the storm brought down hundreds of trees and flooded a neighborhood.

“It was the nastiest day I’ve seen here,” the 40-year resident said. “It’s pretty cool how people pull together in times of need.”

A handful of houses were damaged by falling trees. The Outdoor Adventure Center lost its roof.

Sandbags kept flood waters from getting into most homes, Albert said. But yards were a mess of mud, silt and gravel after the North Fork Skykomish River receded.

By Tuesday afternoon, water-damaged shoulders on road had been repaired, Albert said. Most of the fallen trees had been cut and wood was piled around town.

The power was on after being out for several days, depending on the location, Albert said. Internet and phone lines remained down Tuesday, leaving the Index General Store unable to use its credit card machine.

Reports of damage are encouraged sooner rather than later, but there isn’t a deadline. Officials understand that returning home and mopping up might come first. Many people are just getting back from staying with family or other alternate lodging, Pennington said.

The Mount Index Riversites community was without power, phone and Internet for four days, Pennington said.

“They’ve had no means to even begin reporting damages,” Pennington said. “Those numbers are going to really increase in those rural areas.” Stanwood and Silvana are two other neighborhoods the county is checking in with for damage totals.

On Tuesday, a Washington Conservation Corps team was headed to Index to deal with damaged trees still blocking critical routes, Pennington said. The county planning department also was in town working with homeowners on damage assessments.

Losses from power outages — such as spoiled meat in the freezer — should be reported.

“There are severe secondary impacts from power outages that people may not have coverage for,” Pennington said. “Those damages can count in the end.”

During the storm, all of the county’s river gauges stopped working, Pennington said. It was likely a wind-related Internet issue, but that left emergency management folks without real-time water-level measurements and predictions, he said. They relied on what’s happened in previous events and knowledge of the river systems.

The storm also was the first major weather event since the county took over emergency management for seven cities south of Everett. All of those cities have signed new contracts with the county as of Nov. 1, Pennington said. Before, Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway operated their own, separate emergency management organization. It no longer exists.

Officials kept an eye out for flash floods and winds in south county, but nothing serious has been reported there, Pennington said.

In addition, the county public works department on Tuesday announced a voucher program for people to dispose for free of damaged household items and spoiled food from the storm. The program runs through April 1 and applies only to home owners, not businesses. Identification might be required, and restrictions apply.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

More

Those affected by the storm can report damage online at snoco.org or by calling 425-388-5088.

For more information about the waste vouchers, go to www.snoco.org/solidwaste or call 425-388-3425.

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