Puget Sound
10 days before
Christmas - 2006

The WIND hit
at our house at night time.
About 65 mph.
I was up - looking out the
front window, the limbs on
the pine trees bending
into a U shape.

The photo at right is just
like it is today, 4 miles east
 of us, in our son's Area.

Vern Bouwman
December 17, 2006

A few weeks earlier, we had rain that set a record for the month of November. Where land did not drain well, the roots of the tall pine trees became set in very soggy soil.

During the November rains there were a couple of days that it snowed. The photo of our house, below - left, was taken then. We have six of those beautiful trees. They are all well rooted in clay soil and in good health. Trees like this fair very well in high winds. Bryan's property is larger with several large trees. One is very very large. The tree forester has inspected them and advised that they are all well also.

Many houses have received damage like the one below.

Most seem to be in areas that have the wet soggy soil.

The roots do not even appear to extend far from the trees.

On that night Dec. 14, 2006; the power went out at about 10:00 p.m. but came back on. Then at mid-night it went out for 23 hours. The first thing was to cut all power to the computer system :) Then we found both flash lights, then the candles. Then we lit our two old fashioned Oil lamps. They give off a lot of light. You can read by them and almost put a puzzle together by straining a little. We could not sleep with that howling wind. It reminded us of the cold blizzards we had back in Michigan. One time Letha got up and coming back to bed, no light in hand, she missed the bed, going to floor and hit her head on the end table, even broke blood. She is OK today.

Early in the morning it was getting cold so I ventured out back and located our wood supply, not too big. Our wood stove is like that shown at right. Letha had it covered with snowman collection and she moved them over by the Christmas tree.
Putting some crumpled paper on the bottom, then small slivers of wood. I placed about 4 small logs. I always cover these items with oil from out oil lamps. It starts right up. We warmed some milk for a big cup of cocoa.

When our lights went out, I looked across the valley to the west and saw the lights were still on on the other side. They went out however an hour later. Actually a good share of them are still out. Bryan's went out about the same time and are still out. The damage is quite bad in his heavily forested area. He has had a generator for 2 years now and it has really paid out.

Around 10:00 a.m. we broke out the radio. We have two, the small one did not seem to work so I took the boom box set up by the computer. I had to disconnect the speakers so I got the speakers of the small radio. the boom box required 8 batteries but we have plenty.

The storm news was continuos KOMO1000-AM. There are a lot of people out there in trouble. We are so fortunate. They take phone calls from every body. One lady was wondering how to keep her tropical fish warm. Another lived in a basement apartment and could not flush her toilet because all drainage had to be pumped up and out. Several persons called from their cars, telling of the problems in different locations and how dark it was without street lights or signal lights at intersections.

For lunch I made an egg salad sandwich, eggs were already cooked. For dinner we got the frying pan out to make BLT's. Having wire tongs we could make toast over the fire. Letha used one of her hot stuff gloves to keep from burning her hand and guess what, the glove caught fire, but only for a second.

At 10:00 PM on the 15th the power came on for 3 minutes. But off the went again. An hour later they came on for good.

Saturday I cleaned up the yard. There is enough junk limbs to fill the yard waste bucket for 3 weeks. The only food we had to throw out is Ice Cream and Corn Dogs.

We are so lucky - we have offered a place to some folks but none have come yet. Many will be in trouble for many days.
At one time over 1,000,000 people were with out lights. We really do have an idea how others suffer around the world, which many times worse than any of us up here in the North West.

December 18:
Our grandchildren were over today. In the evening the kids wanted pizza and KFC so Letha ordered the pizza and I headed for KFC in Woodenville., (they told me it was open), wrong. The ATM was open though so I loaded up and went to the supermarket. They were open but emergency power only, no frozen foods or fresh meat. This was at 5:00 pm when people were heading home from work and several traffic lights were out. I took the back streets up the hill, right past our house and over to Bothell. With luck, the supermarket was in full operation and they had the hot fixens for dinner. On the way back I picked up the pizza and all were happy. The grand kids come first, right? The power at their home is still out. Our son is looking into buying a second generator for back-up.

December 19:
Our son's power came back on 5 min. before December 20.

Comments from Friends

1. Now you look and sound like a Hoosier!

2. I'm glad to hear you and your wife made it through that bad time with not to much inconvenience. I wondered if you where in the affected area.

3. Incredible pictures of the damage that has occurred up there. We are glad you and Letha are o.k. I hope that's the last of the bad weather for you. Here in Arizona it's getting a little cold at night but the days are mild; nothing compared to what you've been experiencing. God bless you all!!

4. I've old shipmates and relatives in New Orleans and Florida, a brother in Tornado land, Oklahoma, a daughter in snowy NY---now you and other friends in the Seattle area. Guess I'll quit beefin' about the high cost of living in San Diego---and enjoy the nice weather!

5. Just read your e-mail with pictures and am really glad that you and your wife have survived those terrible storms.  I have several friends also up there in the puget sound area and seattle and they didn't do so well.  They all survived but their land and trees took a big hit.  One friend of mine lost quite a few trees and one hit his work shop.  They just got lights back on also on Saturday.  You guys take care and again, I'm glad that you and your wife are doing ok.

6. Last year at this time we were living in darkness also. We had one of those famous South Carolina ice storms. We went five days without electricity and because we had no power we also had no heat or water. The fireplace and flashlights and a battery power radio kept us going. I had also purchased a single burner propane stove after the last ice storm that we made soup, coffee, and boiled eggs. We have a little emergency stash in our bedroom closet of batteries, propane stove and lantern, canned propane, flashlights and a battery powered radio. Was concerned about you -- glad to know you both are all right.

7. from Chehalis area - We lost power from about 5:30 pm on Thursday, the 14th, to about 3:10 pm on Saturday.  So, it was for about 46 hours.  We didn't have much damage - just a couple of 4x4 posts in our fence got broken.  We are lucky since we don't have any big trees immediately around our home.  But, up the street, a big fir tree fell against the power lines, breaking a power pole in two.  That was the reason for most of the delay in getting the power back on to our house.  We used a couple of lanterns, one with a fluorescent lamp which lit up the living room quite well.  We had to use a small Coleman power generator to keep our freezer running, so we didn't lose much of our food.  <>As you say, many other people weren't so lucky.  There are still some homes down our way that don't have power and it has gotten quite cold.  Now, I understand we are in for some more rain and winds tomorrow - but, hopefully, not so bad.

8. from Michigan - WOW!!  I'm glad everyone is ok.  I didn't realize the damage you were getting there.

9. from Illinois - Glad to hear you got through the storm ok.  We had an ice storm here a couple of weeks ago, It took Ameren 10 days to get everyone's power back on.  Our neighborhood was only out overnight, no big deal, but over half a million in Illinois and Missouri lost power for up to 10 days.  Not as bad as your situation in the Northwest.  Needless to say, the power company here is taking a lot of heat, and the politicians are making the most of it.  Doubly so, since we had an almost identical situation in July, just as many without power for almost as long.  That was a wind storm.  We were out for about 3 days that time, but losing power in the summer is not a life threatening situation for most.    I'm glad I invested in a generator a couple of years ago, have used it several times.