Thursday, October 22, 2020
29.0°F

Power restored after Tuesday windstorm

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | October 15, 2020 1:00 AM

Crews for Avista Utilities and Kootenai Electric reported full restoration after high winds knocked out power in parts of Kootenai County Tuesday night.

Kootenai Electric was reporting zero outages Wednesday afternoon, this after fierce wind gusts topped 50 miles per hour Tuesday night, knocking out power for many of their customers in Spirit Lake.

Similarly, Avista reported no remaining outages Wednesday following a stretch of power outages that impacted residents along the Government Way corridor from Hayden Avenue south toward Hanley.

“Our crews worked through the night to get power restored to those lost due to the high winds,” Avista said in a statement.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, there was a peak of 8,700 customers without power throughout Avista's service area. As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, that number was down to 61.

Erika Neff, KEC communications coordinator, said Tuesday’s storm outages were quickly resolved, with almost all power restored by midnight.

“Last night, the windstorm came through the area and caused scattered outages in our system,” Neff said, “mainly in the northern parts of our system. We had close to 2,000 people without power, mainly in the Twin Lakes area, Hayden, parts of Athol, and the Rathdrum area.”

Neff added that the outages were snuffed out quickly because of preparation, not only by the seven Kootenai Electric crews working Tuesday night but by the company’s long-term strategies.

“Our crews were well-prepared in advance,” she said. “They knew the storm was coming, and they had a really good response plan drawn up. Plus, we’ve been working to put some lines underground for some time, with the help from a FEMA grant. We think that was one of the reasons why those outages weren’t as severe (as past storms).”

The timing of the windstorm nearly lined up perfectly with the $10 million FEMA grant, which Kootenai Electric applied for and received after the windstorms of 2015. The underground project, which enabled the utility to bury about 50 miles of line, wraps up this month. Kootenai Electric is in the process of applying for three additional FEMA grants to continue burying its lines, something Neff said would contribute to minimizing the impact of future windstorms.

No injuries were reported as a result of Tuesday’s storm, though trees toppling onto homes, through fences and into city streets were reported across Kootenai County.