Winter Storm 2012: News You Can Use

A snow storm Wednesday followed by icy conditions on Thursday have impacted the Puget Sound region. The Tacoma Daily Index...

Storm debris drop off: Five sites open for Tacoma residents

Mon., Jan. 23 @ 1:55 p.m.

Tacoma residents may recycle large amounts of wood storm debris at any of five drop-off locations for no additional charge. Branches and tree limbs should be no larger than 6 inches in diameter and 6 feet long. Drop off hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 29. The drop-off locations include:

— Center at Norpoint, 4818 Nassau Ave., Tacoma 98422;

— Ehli Auction, 9415 Pacific Ave., Tacoma 98444;

— TAGRO, 2201 Portland Ave., Tacoma 98421 (CORRECTION: TAGRO drop-off location added; Tacoma Dome not accepting debris);

— Tacoma Landfill, 3510 S. Mullen St., Tacoma 98409;

— Vassault Park, 6100 N. 37th St., Tacoma 98407.

For curbside yard waste collection, wood debris must be cut to fit inside the yard waste container so the lid sits flat when closed and must not weigh more than 250 pounds. Wood bundles left outside the container will not be collected. Visit http://www.TacomaRecycles.org for frequently updated information on curbside collection and storm debris drop off.

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Prairie Ridge transfer station open

Mon., Jan. 23 @ 12:25 p.m.

Prairie Ridge Transfer Station is accepting storm debris again. They were initially overwhelmed by the amount of debris dropped off, but have opened again to Pierce County residents today. Other transfer stations open include:

Puyallup/South Hill/Graham Areas, Hidden Valley Transfer Station, 17925 Meridian Street East, Seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Gig Harbor Peninsula, Purdy Transfer Station, 14515 54th Ave. NW (144th St NW @ 54th Ave NW), Seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Bonney Lake / East Pierce County, Prairie Ridge Transfer Station, Prairie Ridge Dr E @ South Prairie Road E, Seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Anderson Island, White’s Pit, Eckenstam Johnson RdSeven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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All Pierce County warming centers and shelters closed

Mon., Jan. 23 @ 11:15 a.m.

With power restored to a vast majority of Pierce County residents, Pierce County officials announced today the warming centers and shelters have been closed.

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Report damage to Pierce County Damage Assessment Center

Mon., Jan. 23 @ 10:06 a.m.

The Pierce County Emergency Operations Center will continue collecting damage information from homeowners and business owners affected by the ice and snow storm beginning on Jan. 16. Pierce County residents and business owners that suffered damage should call the Pierce County Damage Assessment Center at 1-866-798-6363 (toll free) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Callers should have the following information available:

— Name and address of affected property;

— Contact information;

— Type of insurance (homeowners or business) and deductible amount;

— A description of damage and losses, even if uninsured;

— Estimates of the fair market value of the damaged home or business (it is not necessary at this point for property owners to have a contractor’s estimate);

— Individual lost wages due to impact of the storm;

— Business inventory and revenue losses.

The findings from this assessment will be used by the Governor to request a possible disaster declaration and federal disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

This process could take up to a couple of weeks or more. FEMA disaster assistance, if and when it becomes available, only covers uninsured losses.

Among the immediate steps that individuals and families should take include:

— Call your insurance agent to check on your coverage;

— Keep detailed records of all clean-up and repair costs, including photographs;

— When the time comes to make repairs, be aware of local permit requirements and do a thorough check of potential contractors at https://fortress.wa.gov/lni/bbip/Search.aspx .

Visit Pierce County’s Blog for up to date emergency information: http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/ .

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About 600 to 800 customers without power

Sun., Jan. 22 @ 4:43 p.m.

As of Sunday afternoon, between 600 and 800 Tacoma Power customers were without power. Crews from neighboring utilities have joined Tacoma Power to help restore power to that group. Tacoma Power customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage.

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About 1,300 without power; customers should call in again to report an outage

Sun., Jan. 22 @ 7:28 a.m.

By early Sunday morning, about 1,300 Tacoma Power customers were without power. Even if people have already reported their outage, Tacoma Power is asking them to do it again today. Tacoma Power customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage. Today, crews will be working in these areas to restore power: Orchard, the Tideflats, Lakewood, Gravelly Lake, Parkland, Fern Hill, Elk Plain, Graham, 224th St. E. and Roy around Mt. Hwy.

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Pierce County road condition update

Sat., Jan. 21 @ 1:56 p.m.

Today, temperatures are in the 40’s across Pierce County and the snow is melting quickly. Most trees are now free from snow/ice load. All primary roads are bare and wet. Slushy accumulations remain on roadsides, at intersections and on roads that have not been plowed. Strong winds began across the county at approximately 2:30 a.m. Overnight, Pierce County Road Operations received only two additional calls for downed trees and field crews are reporting that a moderate volume of tree boughs now cover road ways in some areas as a result of the winds.

Overnight a contingent of trucks completed plowing on secondary collector roads and the balance of the night shift continued working to clear downed trees and tree debris from roadways.

At 6 a.m. Public Works road crews dispatched 42 two-person crews that will focus on road clearing county-wide. Road Operations is being supported with additional staff from Surface Water Management, Traffic Operations and Sewer Maintenance Divisions. These crews will be assigned to work systematically through emergency response zones to open lanes and roadside drainage blocked by downed trees and debris, and then will begin removal of the volumes of tree debris that has accumulated on the roadsides. This resource structure will remain in place until roads are returned to normal operation.

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Morning winds cause power outages; about 2,400 customers without power

Sat., Jan. 21 @ 5:51 a.m.

As the wind picks up, branches are going down. About 2,400 Tacoma Power customers are without power this morning, with the bulk of them in the Elk Plain and Roy areas. During an outage, people can follow these tips to keep safe:

— Unplug electrical appliances during power outages to prevent damage to equipment when power is restored. Leave one or two lights on so you know when service is restored;

— Vent fueled space heaters (such as kerosene and propane) to avoid potentially fatal carbon monoxide build-up. Never use propane or gasoline lanterns and gas or charcoal grills indoors;

— Operate generators outside, away from open doors to your home. Never plug your generator into your home’s outlet. Know which appliances or equipment can safely be plugged into your generator.

Customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage.

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WSDOT re-opens Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 8:15 p.m.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has re-opened all lanes of State Route 16 at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The span was closed earlier today due to ice falling on to the roadway. The last time the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was closed for ice was Dec. 27, 1996, according to WSDOT officials.

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Tacoma Power outage update: About 2,750 customers without power

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 7:20 p.m. At this time, about 2,750 customers do not have power, and those numbers may grow in the morning, as winds are expected to increase. Outages are in these areas:

— 1,100 in Roy, Graham and Elk Plain;

— 1,375 in the Salishan area, from Vickery Road to Waller Road;

— 50 in the Summit area near State Route 512;

— 60 in University Place around Bridgeport Way and W. Soundview Drive.

— 50 in Fife, from 20th St. E. to 30th St. E., and another handful in Northeast Tacoma.

With winds expected to pick up early Saturday morning, more outages may occur. Keep cell phones charged and flashlights ready. Customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage.

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Pierce County monitors flood potential

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 5:04 p.m.

With the snow melting and rain forecast through the weekend, Pierce County is encouraging residents to help prevent flooding by keeping storm drains clear of snow and debris. Pierce County crews will be monitoring river flooding conditions, but rivers in Pierce County aren’t forecast to flood.  Flooding in urban areas might be a problem due to clogged storm drains.

“We’re predicting it will be relatively minor and localized at this point,” said Harold Smelt from Pierce County Public Works and Utilities. “Of course, that’s subject to change. It all depends on how quickly the snow melts.”

Here’s what residents can do to help avoid urban flooding:

— Clean out storm drains in neighborhoods and keep them clear of debris to help prevent local flooding, but only if that can be done safely;

— Call (253) 798-6000 to report water over roadways in unincorporated Pierce County. For other areas, call the local public works department;

— Don’t sweep debris into the street where it can end up clogging storm drains.

Circumstances can change depending on the rate of snow melt and rainfall over the next few days. Visit www.piercecountywa.org/flood for updated information on flooding.

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Power outage tips from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 2:17 p.m.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department cautions that power outages may result in significant health hazards. By taking some simple precautions, Pierce County residents can avoid health risks associated with contaminated drinking water, septic system malfunctions and food safety.

I. Drinking Water and Wells — If your water supply is from a small water system and your power to the well system is out, your well or water system can become contaminated. Because of pressure loss in the system, contaminants can enter the drinking water supply. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recommends that when the power is restored, you run your water and check to see if the water has any discoloration, smell or cloudiness. If you observe any of these changes this could indicate a potential problem. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recommends that you test your water for the presence of bacteria and use a certified laboratory to determine if the water is safe for consumption.

II. Septic Systems — If the septic system serving your house uses electricity to power a pump, and the power is out, use of the septic system should be curtailed. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recommends that you reduce your water usage to a minimum until the power is restored. Your pump tank should have an emergency reserve capacity of about 300 gallons before it fills up. This capacity will not be enough for dishwashing, laundry, or many showers. If the power is out for more than a day, you may want to operate the pump using the manual on/off switch when the power is restored. Turn the pump on for about 3 minutes every 3 hours until the water level in the pump tank returns to normal. This will prevent the pump from discharging the entire reserve amount of effluent into the drainfield at one time.

III. Food Safety after Power Outages — Refrigerated foods will be safe as long as power is not out for longer than four hours. Keep the refrigerator door shut to prevent warming up the stored food. Discard all potentially hazardous foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, soft cheeses, milk, and cream that warms above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. This includes cooked foods as well as raw. If in doubt, throw it out! Discard food into your garbage can. Frozen foods that have partially or completely thawed can be re-frozen if they contain ice crystals or are below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

For additional information please go to the Health Department’s Web site at http://www.tpchd.org . Community members may also call (253) 798-6470 for questions about drinking water and septic systems or, (253) 798-6460 for questions about food safety from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

You may also find more helpful information about food safety during a power outage at http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/food/poweroutage.html .

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Sprinker opening, Fun Run postponed due to storm

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 1:51 p.m.

Two major Pierce County Parks and Recreation events have been postponed due to conditions caused by this week’s winter storm.

Sprinker Recreation Center’s new ice rink was scheduled to open to the public on Sat., Jan. 21, after an eight-month closure. The opening is being moved to Sat., Jan. 28 due to the ice, snow and slush around the center, as well as the area’s power outages. The opening will follow the same schedule. Doors open at 9 a.m. for the public to walk around and check out the new facility. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and other dignitaries will participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m., and then the public skating session will open. All are invited to attend the re-opening of this recreational facility that serves 300,000 visitors a year.

The “No Sun Fun Run” that was scheduled for Sat., Jan. 21 also has been postponed to Sat., Jan. 28 due to unsafe conditions on the Nathan Chapman Trail. The trail has numerous trees and limbs down, as well as snow and ice in spots. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m., and the race starts at 10 a.m.

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Sliding Tacoma Dome ice closes Ticketmaster office

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 1:16 p.m.

The City of Tacoma reports that due to sliding slabs of snow and ice coming off the Tacoma Dome roof, the Ticketmaster office at the Dome has been closed for the day.

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Rollover collision blocks I-5 South near Puyallup River Bridge

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 1:10 p.m.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) reports a rollover collision blocks two lanes of traffic on Interstate 5 southbound at milepost 135 near the Puyallup River Bridge in Fife. UPDATE: All lanes were cleared at 1:50 p.m.

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Tips and help on dealing with storm-related insurance claims

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 12:47 p.m.

As Washingtonians start to recover from this week’s snow- and ice storm, the state’s insurance regulator offered some tips on insurance claims.

“We encourage people to start with their agent or insurer. But our staff can often help with denied claims, delayed payments and confusing policy language,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “And although we’re also recovering from the storm –- our main buildings are without power –- people can still e-mail us or file complaints online.”

The e-mail address is AskMike@oic.wa.gov . To file a complaint online, go to http://www.insurance.wa.gov .

Here are some tips and frequently-asked questions about insurance claims:

Q: Will filing a claim make my insurance premiums go up?

It may. So it’s a good idea to first weigh the cost of the repair, your deductible, and the possibility that you’ll pay higher insurance rates in the future before deciding whether to file a claim.

Q: My neighbor’s tree fell on my house. Whose insurance pays?

Your homeowners will often pay for the damage, even if it was your neighbor’s tree. And you’ll be responsible for the deductible. Sometimes your insurer can get the neighbor’s insurance to pay, if it can be shown that the neighbor was at fault. But that can be hard to prove.

Q: My car was damaged. Can I choose which repair shop to take it to?

Yes, you can generally choose which shop to take the car to. But the shop and insurer must agree on price. If they can’t agree, you could be stuck paying the difference.

Q: A tree fell on my car. Am I covered?

Yes, as long as you have comprehensive auto coverage.

Q: We lost power and my freezer thawed. Am I covered?

Yes, most homeowners policies cover this. But check if there is a deductible.

Q: Trees and branches fell in my yard. Will my homeowners insurance pay for cleanup?

Probably not. Standard homeowners policies don’t cover tree removal and cleanup unless the tree fell on the home, car, garage, etc.

Q: A tree fell on my carport. Will my insurance cover that?

Yes, homeowners coverage will usually cover that kind of damage.

Q: I’m worried about flooding. Does my homeowners policy cover flooding.

No. A standard homeowners policy does not cover flooding. Flood coverage typically requires a separate policy. Many homeowners get this coverage through the federally run National Flood Insurance Program.

Q: My television was ruined by a power surge when the electricity came back on. Will my insurance cover that?

Most homeowners policies do cover appliances and electronics ruined by a power surge. But consider your deductible. In some cases – particularly for low-cost or old equipment — it may not be worth filing a claim.

People with insurance questions or complaints can contact the state insurance commissioner’s office at 1-800-562-6900 or e-mail AskMike@oic.wa.gov . You can also file a complaint 24/7 at http://www.insurance.wa.gov .

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WSDOT closes Tacoma Narrows Bridge due to falling ice

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 12:18 p.m.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has closed both directions of State Route 16 at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge due to ice falling on to the roadway. The last time the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was closed for ice was Dec. 27, 1996, according to WSDOT officials.

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Tacoma Power outage update: About 2,600 customers without power

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 12:12 p.m.

The outage picture for Tacoma Power’s customers is changing rapidly. At this time, about 2,600 customers do not have power:

— 1,125 in the Roy, Graham and Elk Plain areas;

— 930 in the Midland Area;

— 200 in Puyallup around Canyon Road and 128th Street E, and McMillin Reservoir Road;

— 100 in University Place around Cirque Drive, Sunset Drive and Elwood Drive.

The rest are spread throughout Tacoma Power’s service territory in Frederickson, Fife, West Tacoma and Northeast Tacoma. Customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage. Tacoma Power will continue to send updates and will keep its Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/mytpu ) and Twitter ( https://twitter.com/MyTPU ) sites updated with current information.

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Tacoma Power outage update: About 2,500 without power

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 9:00 a.m.

The outage picture for Tacoma Power’s customers is changing rapidly. Although Tacoma Power reports scattered outages throughout its service territory, the area around Graham took the biggest beating with this storm, where the outages have been the longest and most frequent.

About 2,500 customers are without power this morning:

— 1,500  in the Roy, Graham and Elk Plain areas;

— 300 near Puyallup around Canyon Road and 128th Street E.

The rest are spread throughout Tacoma Power’s service territory. As the ice and snow melt, Tacoma Power anticipates the number of outages will slow down. Customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage. Tacoma Power will continue to send updates and will keep its Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/mytpu ) and Twitter ( https://twitter.com/MyTPU ) sites updated with current information.

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Pierce County roads update

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 7:04 a.m.

Crews continue to work around the clock clearing snow, slush and tree debris from County roads.

Primary arterials are mostly bare and wet with slush in places. Secondary roads have been plowed and are reasonably passable. Local access roads have not yet been plowed. Tree damage and debris is significant and is widespread. Approximately 50 roads are closed at this time due to downed trees and utility lines, and another 61 sites have lane restrictions. Crews are working non-stop to coordinate with utility companies to open roads.

Drivers should reduce speed, allow extra time for their commute and use extra caution as branches and downed lines can be difficult to see. Temps are forecast to warm today so focus will transition to keeping roadside drainage open to prevent urban flooding; clearing the remaining closed lanes and removal of roadside tree debris. Crews will continue to work around the clock until roads are returned to full function.

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Tacoma Power outage update: About 1,100 without power

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 6:56 a.m.

Tacoma Power crews worked through the night to restore service to many people who lost power yesterday. Freezing temperatures, icy roads and slippery working conditions provided many challenges.

About 1,100 customers are without power this morning:

— 960  in University Place from Cirque Drive to 57th Street W, 76th Avenue to Sunset Drive and Cirque Drive to 40th Street W, Sunset Drive to Elwood Drive;

— 50 in Tacoma along Lincoln Avenue from Thorne Road to Marc Street and Milwaukee Way from Lincoln Avenue to Marshall Avenue.

Other, smaller outages are spread throughout Tacoma Power’s service territory.

Ice-laden tree limbs caused most of the damage to Tacoma Power’s system and will likely continue to cause outages until the weather warms up and the ice melts. Customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage. Tacoma Power will continue to send updates and will keep its Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/mytpu ) and Twitter ( https://twitter.com/MyTPU ) sites updated with current information.

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Tacoma Link service restored

Fri., Jan. 20 @ 6:30 a.m.

Sound Transit has reported that Tacoma Link service is running again. On Thursday, officials announced Tacoma Link would not operate in downtown Tacoma due to ice on the overhead wires.

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Updated list of Pierce County shelters

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 9:25 p.m.

Due to the continued power outages and cold weather throughout Pierce County, the following shelters are open and available to anyone seeking a warm place to stay.

Overnight shelters:

— Bonney Lake Senior Center: 19304 Bonney Lake Boulevard, Bonney Lake, 98391 (overnight warming center);

— Buckley Hall: 127 N. River Road, Buckley, 98321;

— Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church: 7700 Skansie Avenue, Gig Harbor, 98335;

— Church of the Nazarene: 1026 7th Avenue SW, Puyallup, 98372;

— South Prairie Community Center: 198 SR 162 E., South Prairie, 98385;

— Sunrise Baptist: 12115 Shaw Road E., Puyallup, 98374.

Daytime warming centers:

— Calvary Community Church: 15116 Gary Street E., Sumner, 98390;

— Lakewood Community Center: 9112 Lakewood Dr. SW., Lakewood, 98499;

— Orting City Hall: 110 Train Street SE., Orting, 98360.

When going to a shelter, please bring the following:

— Toiletries (toothpaste, personal hygiene items, and medications);

— Blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows;

— Extra clothing, towels, and washcloths;

— Comfort items for children (stuffed animal, toys, games, books, and blanket).

Call the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center for additional information at (253) 798-7470.

Visit Pierce County’s blog for up to date emergency information: http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/ .

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Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department issues advisory for people using home medical equipment

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 8:51 p.m.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has issued an advisory for people using medical equipment at home. Because of the power outages around the county, some residents who use home medical equipment may need assistance if the batteries or other power source run low. If this occurs, people should seek assistance from one of the following resources:

— Tacoma residents can call (253) 973-0051 for assistance from the City of Tacoma (available day and night); – The following shelters will be open overnight:

1. Bonney Lake—Bonney Lake Senior Center at 19304 Bonney Lake Boulevard (overnight warming center);

2. Buckley—Buckley Hall at 127 N. River Road;

3. Gig Harbor—Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church at 7700 Skansie Avenue;

4. Puyallup—Nazarene Church  at 1026 7th Avenue SW.

The following warming centers are open during the daytime:

— Lakewood—Lakewood Community Center at 9112 Lakewood Drive SW (only open during the day)

— Orting—Orting City Hall at 110 Train Street SE (open until 10 p.m. and re-opening in the morning);

— Sumner—Calvary Community Church at 15116 Gary Street (open until 9 p.m. and re-opening in the morning).

Examples of home medical equipment include any equipment needing charged batteries.The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health.

Learn more at http://www.tpchd.org .

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WSDOT and WSP face challenging circumstances as they work to keep roadways open, passable

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 7:24 p.m.

Two Washington State Department of Transportation workers injured today while helping keep state roadways open during the winter storm are expected to make full recoveries, WSDOT said today.

But Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said these incidents, plus other situations faced by WSDOT employees and State Patrol troopers, highlight the dangers emergency responders face as they work to keep the state’s transportation system functional against difficult weather odds.

“Our maintenance workers and State Patrol troopers truly are partners in situations like the one we have faced this week when heavy snowfalls and ice made our roadways difficult to travel,” Hammond said. “I want to personally thank all the men and women who have been working around the clock to make our highways as safe as possible.”

WSP said its personnel responded to 2,317 incidents in the 24-hour period ending at 9 a.m. Thursday morning – four times as many incidents as a year ago on the same day.

WSDOT maintenance crews follow stringent safety standards and protocols as they plow snow and ice, apply deicers, clear fallen trees and help clear accidents and spinouts with their WSP partners.

Thursday morning, a WSDOT incident response worker was injured on southbound I-405 near Mill Creek while assisting a driver whose car had spun out. The worker, who was taken to a hospital, sustained several broken bones but is expected to make a full recovery. Fellow WSDOT workers were at his side throughout the ordeal.

Earlier in the morning, another WSDOT employee clearing fallen trees on State Route 18 was struck by a tree limb. He received four stitches and was able to return to work.

Also today, two snowplows working on Interstate 90, one near Ellensburg and the other in Spokane, were rear-ended, but no injuries were reported.

To reduce risks to WSDOT and WSP emergency responders, WSDOT advises drivers to take it slow, drive for conditions, leave extra room between vehicles, and be extra cautious near chain-up areas.

Also, drivers should use extra caution around snowplows. Stay back 15 car lengths from the snowplow until a safe passing area clearly exists or until the plow pulls off the road. When approaching an oncoming snowplow, slow down and give it extra room. If involved in an incident, drivers should attempt to steer the vehicles out of the traffic lanes if possible.

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Orting residents should prepare for days without power

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 7:00 p.m.

Orting residents should prepare to deal with 2-4 more days of power outage with freezing rain until 12 p.m. Friday, according to City of Orting officials.

City crews continue to work diligently clearing and plowing roads, keeping water and sewer systems functional with generators. Extra police officers are on duty additional patrols in all darkened areas.

A warming center is available until 10:00 p.m. tonight and open again at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning at city hall on Train Ave SE. The Washington Soldiers Home snack bar opens tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. Roads in and out of Orting continue to be periodically closed due to falling trees.

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Tacoma Power outage update: About 15,000 without power

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 7:09 p.m.

As the temperature has dropped, Tacoma Power has seen more outages in its service area from trees and branches falling on lines. About 15,000 customers do not have power:

— 6,100 customers around 75th Street W and Bridgeport Way in Tacoma;

— 1,700 customers west of Western State Hospital;

— 2,200 customers in Graham;

— 2,200 customers south of Elk Plain and West of Roy;

— 2,600 customers near Summit and Puyallup (Around 128th Street and Canyon Road).

Because of the challenges with repairing the problems, Tacoma Power does not have estimated restoration times. Crews will continue to work throughout the night to restore service as soon as possible. Customers should call (253) 502-8602 or visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage.

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Pierce County Executive signs emergency proclamation

Thurs., Jan. 29 @ 6:00 p.m.

Due to the January 2012 snow and ice storms and the related damages, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has signed a Proclamation of Emergency. The proclamation refers to the “numerous problems resulting from an extended period of freezing rain and snow, including major impacts to the transportation infrastructure, loss of emergency communications, road closures, potential damage to private and public buildings and other facilities, significant power outages in all areas of the County, and the threat to citizens’ lives and livelihood resulting from these weather impacts.” The proclamation allows Pierce County departments and Emergency Management to take emergency actions and provide emergency services to protect health and safety of persons and properties. To read the proclamation, click here — http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/files/2012/01/2012-Snow-Storm-Proclamation1.pdf .

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Tacoma Power creates new tool for reporting outages and downed lines

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 5:48 p.m.

Tacoma Power has created an online outage reporting tool for customers having trouble reporting their outages using the (253) 502-8602 outage reporting line. Customers can now visit http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport to report an outage.

The utility has received many reports of downed or damaged power lines. Many of those lines are ones that run from the pole to the customer’s home. To determine if the problem is isolated to a single home, customers should see if their neighbors have power. If they do, customers should report the outage to Tacoma Power either through the phone (253) 502-8602 or http://www.mytpu.org/outagereport and should note that the problem is at their home only. Customers should avoid going near a downed line because it could be energized. Lines that are not sparking or that look dead may be live. Tacoma Power will continue to send updates and will keep its Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/mytpu ) and Twitter ( https://twitter.com/MyTPU ) sites updated with current information.

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City declares a state of emergency regarding winter storm

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 5:22 p.m.

Interim City Manager Rey Arellano worked with Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Deputy Mayor Joe Lonergan today to jointly declare a state of emergency regarding the winter weather currently affecting Tacoma. The emergency declaration will allow the City to enter into contracts as necessary to aid in addressing the emergency, without the delay of the normal competitive bidding process.

At this time, it is anticipated that the City may need to hire a contractor to assist in removal of downed trees. In addition, the proclamation may assist the City in recovering certain emergency-related costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Pursuant to City code, the City Council will be asked to confirm this proclamation at its next meeting on January 24, 2012.

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Road crews continue clearing roads of snow and storm debris

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 3:22 p.m.

Commutes will remain difficult through the night and into Friday as this winter storm continues to pack a punch.

Many state highways continue to have areas of snow, slush and ice, and there are many areas with trees down across the road. Western Washington temperatures are not expected to start rising above freezing until Friday morning, Jan. 20.

Washington State Department of Transportation crews have been in storm-fighting mode since Saturday, working around the clock to treat and clear roads across the state.Storm Impacts:

— Travelers using I-90 westbound, east of Snoqualmie Pass, tonight will encounter continued delays because of a multi-vehicle collision. The westbound lanes remain closed west of Ellensburg;

— Avalanche control is expected overnight on US 2 Stevens Pass;

— WSDOT traffic cameras in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties are out, due to power outages in the Tacoma area;

— For a complete list of road closures in Puget Sound, visit WSDOT’s What’s Happening Now Web page;

Early Thursday morning, a WSDOT Incident Response worker was injured on southbound I-405 near Mill Creek while assisting a spun-out driver. The worker was taken to Harbor View Medical Center in Seattle. He sustained several broken bones, and is expected to make a full recovery. The incident closed southbound I-405 for several hours.

WSDOT advises drivers:

— When snow and cold temperatures mix with heavy commutes, drivers should expect backups and potentially lengthy delays;

— Drivers can prepare for snow and ice by checking travel and roadway conditions on the WSDOT website and packing winter weather supplies, including tire chains;

— Staying in? Have a full tank of gas, just in case. Going out? Pack tire chains and a winter car kit and drive for conditions.

WSDOT offers several ways to get up-to-date weather, traffic and construction information before hitting the road. WSDOT’s Web site experienced slowdowns due to significant traffic from quadruple the normal use. Technicians are working on the site, so keep trying.

Call 511. WSDOT’s driver information phone line provides real-time traffic, incident and closure information. Out-of-state callers can dial 1-800-695-ROAD (7623). TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388. Sign up for email updates and social media tools such as Facebook.Follow traveler information on Twitter @wsdot, @wsdot_traffic, @wsdot_passes, @wsdot_tacoma, @SnoqualmiePass.

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Carbon monoxide poisoning poses danger

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 3:18 p.m.

As power outages and falling temperatures continue in Pierce County, the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning increases. Carbon monoxide is caused by burning almost anything inside your house. It is a colorless, odorless gas which can go undetected until it is too late. It is important to be aware of the risk of serious injury or possible death from carbon monoxide poisoning. If your home is without power, consider going to a family or friends house, the mall, movie theater, or even a warming center.

To avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning, follow these tips:

— DO NOT burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages, or mobile homes;

— DO NOT burn charcoal in the fireplace in your home;

— DO NOT use any gasoline-powered equipment indoors;

— DO NOT use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time;

— DO NOT idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open;

— DO NOT sleep in a room while using an unvented kerosene heater.

Always DO these things:

— Make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked;

— Have oil and gas appliances, fireplaces and wood stoves checked every year by a trained professional;

— Every home should have a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm, but this should not replace the other prevention steps.

What should you do if you think someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide?

— Move the person to a place with fresh air immediately;

— Call 911 if the person has lost consciousness (fainted or passed out);

— If the person did not lose consciousness take the person to an emergency room and tell them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

Additional information can be viewed on the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Web site at http://www.tpchd.org . The find the nearest community shelter contact Pierce County Emergency Management at (253) 798-7470, or visit http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/.

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Tacoma Power outage update: 7,500 customers without power

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 2:29 p.m.

Ice on trees and branches continues to cause outages in Tacoma Power’s service area. About 7,450 customers are without power in these areas:

— 1,150 customers in the area around Franklin Pierce High School;

— 1,500 customers in the area around Curtis High School;

— 2,200 customers in University Place, near University Place Primary;

— 2,600 customers in University Place around Bridgeport Way and Cirque Drive Tacoma Power has received many reports of lights flickering in other areas, which often means branches on the power lines, so Tacoma Power anticipate the potential for more outages as the day continues. Tacoma Power will continue to send updates and will keep its Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/mytpu ) and Twitter ( https://twitter.com/MyTPU ) sites updated with current information.

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Shelter opens in Puyallup

Thurs., Jan 19 @ 1:52 p.m.

With continued power outages and cold weather in Pierce County, the Nazarene Church in Puyallup has opened an overnight shelter open to anyone seeking a warm place to stay. The shelter is located at 1026 7th Avenue SW, Puyallup.

When going to the shelter, please bring the following:

— Toiletries (toothpaste, personal hygiene items, and medications)

— Blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows

— Extra clothing, towels, and washcloths

— Comfort items for children (stuffed animal, toys, games, books, and blanket)

There are five warming centers, only open during the day, in Pierce County. They are located at:

— Orting City Hall: 110 Train Street SE, Orting

— Orting Public Safety Building: 201 Washington Avenue South, Orting

— Bonney Lake Senior Center: 19304 Bonney Lake Boulevard, Bonney Lake

— Cavalry Community Church: 15116 Gary Street, Sumner

— Lakewood Community Center: 9112 Lakewood Drive SW, Lakewood

Call the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center for additional information at (253) 798-7470.

Visit Pierce County’s blog for up to date emergency information:  http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/ .

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Warming centers open in Pierce County

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 1:01 p.m.

In response to power outages and cold temperatures in Pierce County, five warming centers have been opened:

— Orting City Hall: 110 Train Street SE, Orting

— Orting Public Safety Building: 201 Washington Avenue South, Orting

— Bonney Lake Senior Center: 19304 Bonney Lake Boulevard, Bonney Lake

— Cavalry Community Church: 15116 Gary Street, Sumner

— Lakewood Community Center: 9112 Lakewood Drive SW, Lakewood

Call the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center for additional information at (253) 798-7470. Visit Pierce County’s blog for up to date emergency information — http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/ .

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Tacoma Link service suspended

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 12:32 p.m.

Tacoma Link will not be operating in downtown Tacoma on Thurs., Jan. 19 due to ice on the overhead wires, Sound Transit officials announced ( http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Alerts/Tacoma-Link-119.xml ).

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Schuster Parkway closed, downtown parking enforcement waived

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 12:17 p.m.

With the extensive snow piled on trees, the added weight of the ice was too much for many of the trees along Schuster Parkway, which is littered with broken branches and a small landslide in addition to all the snow and ice, according to Business Improvement Area (BIA) officials. The City has closed the street until it has had a chance to clear the debris from the three lanes currently obstructed. Indeed, Schuster Parkway is expected to remain closed for most of the day. According to the City, slides are continuing to occur as they are removing debris.

Also, for those who are in downtown Tacoma, there is no parking enforcement today due to the hazardous conditions and cars stranded in some areas of snow and ice. Please note that a Tacoma police officer may still cite anyone parked hazardously (blocking traffic, crosswalks, etc.). If your vehicle does become disabled, please do your best to move it out of traffic.

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Gov. Gregoire proclaims winter storm emergency

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 12:00 p.m.

Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued a proclamation that ensures the delivery of valuable dairy products across Washington state. The proclamation would also — if needed — allow the activation of the Washington National Guard, and free up state agencies to take extraordinary steps to help local jurisdictions during the current winter storm.

“This is purely a precautionary measure,” Gregoire said. “So far, we haven’t received any requests for state assistance – but we know weather conditions are rapidly changing. I want to make sure we have every resource available to ensure our communities are safe. This proclamation would allow us to activate the National Guard if we need to. It also allows state agencies to respond quickly to any storm-related requests from cities and counties for state assistance. A brief waiver of the restrictions on dairy truck drivers’ work hours is needed now to avoid shipment delays that could mean the loss of nearly $1 million a day for the state’s dairy industry.”

Gregoire signed the proclamation into effect on Jan. 18. The proclamation Waives hours of service for drivers of trucks hauling intrastate bulk milk shipments from farms to dairy processing facilities and from dairies to processing facilities. The waiver is in effect through Jan. 22; directs state government to support emergency response activities in local jurisdictions affected by the winter storm; allows state agencies to make expenditures and utilize resources to assist local communities in their recovery efforts; and authorizes the Washington National Guard to activate at the direction of State Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg.

The proclamation adds that state actions are to be coordinated through the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Camp Murray.

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Tacoma Power outage update: 5,200 customers without power

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 11:23 a.m.

All but about 2,000 of Tacoma Power’s customers in south Pierce County who didn’t have power this morning now have service. A tree in the lines caused the outage and crews are working on clearing it to return service to the remaining customers, most of whom live in the Graham area.

About 640 customers in the Brown’s Point area lost power around 8 a.m. because of a tree on the line. Crews are working to clear the tree and restore service. The outage area includes Marine View Drive to Brown’s Point Boulevard and 21st Avenue NE to 40th Avenue NE.

Another 2,600 customers are affected by an outage in Tacoma from 51st Street W to 40th Street W, 67th Avenue W to Orchard Street, and 67th Avenue W from 35th Street W to Chambers Creek Road W. Crews are headed that way to determine the problem and fix it.

With the anticipated continuation of the ice storm through 2 p.m., the utility anticipates more outages throughout the day from branches and trees falling on lines. We have 20 crews working and ready to respond.

Tacoma Power will continue to send updates and will keep our Facebook and Twitter sites updated with current information.

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Pierce County road status map

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 11:02 a.m.

With many roads impacted by the winter weather, drivers are urged to use extreme caution if they need to travel. Pierce County Emergency Management has teamed up with Public Works and Utilities road crews to provide status updates on the Emergency Information site. Visitors on the site can view the emergency map which displays road closures, lane restrictions, and other impacts to the roadways. To view the most updated road conditions visit, http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/ and click on ‘Emergency Map’ on the right hand column.

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Entire state feeling impact from ice storm

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 10:50 a.m.

Collisions and tree limbs are piling up on state highways, the Washington State Department of Transportation said today. Drivers may face long delays from icy conditions and road and lane closures throughout the state. WSDOT crews are dealing with collisions and trees down as freezing rain adds weight to branches laden with snow. Crews in some areas need to wait until it’s safe to go in and clear the highway. Drivers should check road status as WSDOT crews close highways until the threat of falling tree limbs passes. All I-90 westbound lanes are closed near Cle Elum because of a collision involving seven commercial vehicles. Other highlights of the situation at midday:

— Lane and road closures in East King, Pierce, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties due to downed trees;

— Significant ice on SR 14 in the Columbia Gorge;

Compact snow and ice cover most all areas of Eastern Washington, including:

— The Palouse, including Pullman and Colfax: More snow and freezing rain is expected and drivers should be prepared for slow traffic and slippery conditions;

— Selah/Yakima area: There is freezing rain is falling all across the area. The roads may look clear (black pavement) but because of the freezing rain, they are very slippery;

— I-82 is closed in both directions from milepost 113 near Kennewick to milepost 132 near the Oregon state line due to multiple collisions and extremely icy road conditions;

— Tri-Cities area/Walla Walla area: All state highways are open but roads are very icy. The forecast calls for freezing rain until 10 a.m. then a mix of snow and freezing rain until late today.

The National Weather Service in Seattle issued an ice storm warning for areas in Western Washington. The weather service says rain is expected to ease late this morning and temperatures are expected to creep above freezing later today.

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Pierce County offices closed today

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 10:41 a.m.

Conditions around Pierce County are deteriorating due to the ice storm. Fallen trees have cut power to more than 75,000 people in the county, and that problem is likely to get worse. The National Weather Service has extended the ice storm warning into the afternoon. In the interest of employee safety, the Pierce County Executive has declared this to be an inclement weather day. County offices will be closed. Only public safety and designated essential personnel should report to work. This has been a very challenging day, we appreciate your patience.

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Pierce County roads update

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 9:51 a.m.

Pierce County Public Works and Utilities road crews who were out early this morning observed freezing rain and rapidly changing weather.

Freezing rain and snow accumulations began to weigh heavily on tree limbs, which contributed to a very high volume of tree damage; primarily in central, east, and south Pierce County. Northwest of the Narrows bridge was least affected until the last hour. There are multiple reports from the area for downed trees and some pavement re-freeze in the Key Peninsula area.

Pierce County road crews continue to apply de-icer as needed to primary roads and are removing roadside accumulations to mitigate localized flooding impacts when melt off occurs. The Purdy area on the Key Peninsula has seen some re-freeze in the last few hours and crews are re-applying in affected areas. Untreated/unplowed roads continue to be affected by snow, slush and ice countywide.

Since midnight Pierce County has received 90+ calls for downed trees that impacted or blocked roadways, 15 of which involve power lines and continue to block lanes. Call volumes for downed trees have slowed significantly over the last couple hours down to a rate of about 15 per hour.

The most up to date road closure information can be found on Pierce County’s Emergency Information site at: http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/ .

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Pierce County delays opening until noon

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 9:43 a.m.

Pierce County government will be delaying its opening until noon on Thurs., Jan. 19.

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University Place Police Headquarters Open House postponed

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 9:00 a.m.

The Open House and Ribbon Cutting for the City’s new Police Headquarters, originally scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19, has been postponed due to inclement weather. The City of University Place will reschedule the event for a later date. For more information, please visit the City’s website at http://www.CityofUP.com .

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Ice storm impacting travel; trees down on some roadways

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 7:35 a.m.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) today urged drivers to use extreme caution because of ice on roadways from freezing rain.

WSDOT closed State Route 18 between Interstate 90 and the Issaquah Hobart Road shortly after 6 o’clock this morning because ice had knocked about two dozen trees onto the roadway.

There were reports of downed trees this morning on additional Western Washington roadways, prompting some lane and road closures.

Elsewhere, the number of spinouts and cars in the ditch is increasing as the morning commute approaches. The National Weather Service in Seattle issued an ice storm warning for King, Pierce, Snohomish, Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties, in effect until noon today. The weather service says rain is expected to ease late this morning and temperatures are expected to creep above freezing by about midday.

Drivers should expect added delays and check road status as WSDOT crews close highways until the threat of falling tree limbs passes. These are things drivers can do:

— Expect backups and potential lengthy delays;

— Check travel and roadway conditions on the WSDOT Web site;

— Staying in? Have a full tank of gas, just in case;

— Going out? Pack tire chains and a winter car kit and drive for conditions.

Know before you go:

— Find out what’s happening in the Puget Sound region;

— Call 511. WSDOT’s driver information phone line provides real-time traffic, incident and closure information. Out-of-state callers can dial 1-800-695-ROAD (7623). TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388;

— Sign up for email updates and social media tools such as Facebook;

— Follow traveler information on Twitter @wsdot, @wsdot_traffic, @wsdot_passes, @wsdot_tacoma, @SnoqualmiePass.

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Tacoma Power transmission line down again, more than 24,000 without power

Thurs., Jan. 19 @ 6:35 a.m.

History repeats itself. The Canyon/LaGrande power line, the same transmission line that went out last night is down again, which means more than 24,000 homes are without power again. Tacoma Power crews are patrolling the line. The most likely cause is a fallen tree.  Tacoma Power will fix the problem as soon as possible and will send updates when more information is available.

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Shelter opens in Pierce County

Weds., Jan 18 @ 10:12 p.m.

In response to power outages and dropping temperatures in east Pierce County, the Emergency Operations Center has opened a shelter at Evergreen Presbyterian Church, 10118 249th St. E., Graham, WA 98338. Families and pets are welcome to come to the shelter and should plan to bring the following:

— Toiletries (toothpaste, personal hygiene items, and medications)

— Blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows

— Extra clothing, towels, and washcloths

— Comfort items for children (stuffed animal, toys, games, books, and blanket)

— Items for your pet (food, treats, carrier, leash, and toys)

For those who need transportation to the shelter, the volunteer Pierce County Search and Rescue 4×4 team is available to assist. Call the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center to request transportation at (253) 798-7470. Visit Pierce County’s blog for up to date emergency information:  http://blog.piercecountywa.org/emergency/ .

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Roadway warning from WSDOT: Watch for ice

Weds., Jan. 18 @ 5:05 p.m.

Today’s western Washington snowfall, as much as 14 inches in some spots in Pierce and Thurston counties, now gives way to a bigger concern on the roads: ice you can’t see.

Forecasts call for dropping temperatures overnight and wet roadways turning to ice. This dicey combination will cause problems for drivers who travel too fast. On roadways in the greater Seattle area that may not have accumulations of compact snow and ice, the ice that forms overnight may be particularly hard to detect.

Temperatures are expected to range from the single digits in some areas to just below freezing in others before climbing into the 40s by Friday. In central and eastern Washington, drivers can expect compact snow and ice on the roads as more snow moves through. The Palouse region continues to see heavy snow and challenging driving conditions.

The Washington State Department of Transportation urges drivers to use caution and drive for conditions, especially those behind the wheel of large trucks and buses.

Since Saturday, WSDOT crews have been in full snow and ice-fighting mode. They have treated highways with anti-icing materials and salt, plowed snow and ice off roadways, and worked with the State Patrol to clear spinouts and minor collisions.

“I want to give a big thank you to all of our emergency responders, including WSDOT crews, who have been treating and clearing roads around the clock and will do so until we are out of this,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “We continue to ask drivers to know before you go, to be prepared for possible delays and to drive according to the conditions.”

WSDOT gives this advice to drivers:

— When snow and cold temperatures mix with heavy commutes, drivers should expect backups and potential lengthy delays;

— Drivers can prepare for snow and ice by checking travel and roadway conditions on the WSDOT website and packing winter weather supplies, including tire chains.

For travelers or non-travelers, this means it is decision time. Staying in? Have a full tank of gas, just in case. Going out? Pack tire chains and a winter car kit and drive for conditions. Also, know the traction and chain requirements.

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Heavy snowfall brings potential for downed power lines

Weds., Jan. 18 @ 12:44 p.m.

As the snowfall begins to subside, Pierce County Emergency Management cautions that downed power lines and trees leaning on power lines may pose a significant danger to people. By taking some simple precautions residents can avoid the dangers of downed power lines and trees.

If residents come across a downed power line they are encouraged to:

— Stay at least 30 feet in all directions from downed power lines and expect that they are live;Never try to move or touch them;

— Never walk under downed power lines;

— Avoid trees and branches in contact with power lines;

— Never drive over downed power lines;

— If you must exit your vehicle because of fire or other safety reasons, try to jump completely clear, making sure that you do not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Land with both feet together and shuffle away in small steps to minimize the path of electric current and avoid electrical shock;

Residents should also be aware that heavy amounts of snow resting on roofs and tree limbs could be potentially dangerous.

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Snow melt could cause urban flooding

Weds., Jan. 18 @ 3:59 p.m.

As snow in Pierce County begins to melt, residents should be aware that the icy slush could clog storm drains, down spouts and small creek channels resulting in urban flooding.  Pierce County Emergency Management officials are encouraging residents to shovel snow from walkways and driveways to make a drainage path for melting snow to flow away from homes. In addition, they are asking for assistance in clearing storm drains, down spouts, and drainage ditches of snow, leaves, and debris to help prevent urban flooding.

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