Storm was last week, but still affecting daily life for many

Jan 24, 2012

With life returning to normal across much of Puget Sound, at least 24,000 homes were still without power as of 11 o'clock this morning. Puget Sound Energy has the largest number of outages and predicts it will have nearly all its customers restored by Wednesday evening.

The clean-up job is still daunting, and it's affecting some schools and college campuses.

In the Kent School District, administrators had a difficult decision early Monday morning – to keep all schools closed again on Monday, after losing all of last week. Already, they were looking at extending first semester by a week, to fit in final exams.

School district spokesman Chris Loftis says several schools were without power and there were hazards, such as at Meridian Elementary:

"There were some large trees that had fallen, taking down some lines, and we had caution tape around the trees and around the lines. And of course, the power had been turned off. It was a safe environment. But, still, when you are dealing with small children, there's no such thing as too much safety."

In the end, school was canceled on Monday, for the state’s fourth largest school district. But, by Tuesday morning, the whole district was welcoming kids back.

At the height of the storms, Kent had 27 schools without power. The worst damage was at Kentwood High School, where a large transformer blew out, and the repairs are substantial.

Downed trees and branches are a big concern for kids who walk to school on these dark mornings and may find their sidewalks blocked. Some of those kids might be tempted to walk in the streets, said Loftis.

Some colleges are facing major damage.

At The Evergreen State College in Olympia, spokesman Jason Wettstein said classes resumed this week. But the campus is a bit of an obstacle course.

"Evergreen is known for being a campus in the woods and having a lot of beautiful trees. It's part of what defines this campus. And a lot of those trees have broken down now."

Branches are littering streets, including scenic Evergreen Parkway, and blocking pathways.

At Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, a swimming pool is closed indefinitely, because of a crack in the roof, and students have been warned to be careful walking under trees on campus because some branches still could be shaken loose by wind.