Early Sunday morning saw the Puget Sound area battered by a devastating windstorm. The blustery event began shortly after midnight, with winds being measured at 44 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph. These winds had enough power to snap trees and down power lines, leaving over 330,000 people in the region without power.
Fortunately, Puget Sound Electricity (PSE), who covers most of the power needs for the region, has restored much of the area’s power. A statement released by the company confirmed that, by midnight on Jan. 9, 336,000 customers’ lights were back on. For those without electricity, the statement said that “crews are now going neighborhood by neighborhood to restore electric service from Sunday’s storm. This process can be time consuming as power is restored in much smaller numbers, such as to 5, 10 or 20 customers at a time.” As of Wednesday, Jan. 9, they claimed only 487 customers remained without power.
Students at Bellevue College were greatly affected by the storm. Alex, a student from BC, was without power for two-and-a-half days as repair crews worked throughout the region. She noticed that the lack of electricity “makes it difficult to do regular things, like sleeping is more uncomfortable when it gets cold, and if you don’t have a generator or a fireplace it can be very chilly in your house”. Having a plan and being prepared is important to ensure both safety and comfort during emergencies.
Long-term blackouts are disruptive to daily life in ways that affect families outside of the home as well. The lack of power means no internet, which while inconvenient on the surface, can have much larger ramifications, especially for BC students.
Most BC classes require access to the internet to some degree; the most common uses are doing homework or turning in papers. If homework is due, and there is no local internet access, students might see themselves leaning on friends or family that weren’t affected for help. Driving to access another town’s library or even coming back to campus might also be necessary to ensure that work gets done and turned in on time.
Traveling during power outages is also more dangerous than normal. Traffic lights require power to function, and many of them were dark during the first day of the outage. Even when off, however, they still retain a function as a stop sign.
Crews are still cleaning the streets and repairing the damage that Sunday’s windstorm delivered.