Recovery and cleanup efforts have begun after a big thunderstorm drove its way through the heart of Thurston County late Thursday, knocking down power poles, toppling trees onto homes and breaking water mains.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Thousands still without power
Crews are working around the clock to restore power to homes and businesses affected by the storm.
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“There was so much damage, so many poles, so many trees, and lightning strikes on poles and trees,” said Terri-Ann Betancourt, a spokeswoman for Puget Sound Energy.
By 11 a.m. Saturday, the utility’s outage map indicated about 5,000 customers were without power in the state, with nearly 3,300 customers in Thurston County.
2. Some major roads have reopened
By noon Saturday, Yelm Highway, Rich Road, Tilley Road and Carpenter Road reopened, according to Thurston County Emergency Management. Crews are still expected to be working on power lines in several areas, so motorists may experience delays.
3. Clean up with caution
If you have branches and other debris in your yard, don’t start clearing it until you’ve taken a “hot lap,” advises Lacey Fire District 3.
“Make sure there are no wires wrapped up or hidden in the debris,” fire officials posted on Twitter. “The last thing you need is a shock.”
4. Some people should boil their water
There were seven neighborhood water systems that experienced a main break with pressure loss, according to the state Department of Health. When that happens, harmful contaminants can enter the water system.
As a safety precaution, residents in the following neighborhoods or water districts are being asked to boil their water or use bottled water until further notice: Lakeridge Water Co., Kicuwa Meadows, East Olympia Community Water, Longhorn Country Estates, Riverlea, Talcott Ridge and The Vineyard.
For information, go to the Department of Health website.
5. Repairs will be a little easier for Lacey residents
Because of the tremendous amount of damage caused by Thursday’s storm, the city of Lacey’s Building Department implemented an Expedited Building Permit Program for all storm-damaged residential structures within Lacey city limits.
Homeowners must schedule a walk-through inspection with a city building inspector. After that is complete and the required scope of the repair has been agreed upon, the building repair or rebuild can begin, even before the required permit has been issued.
For information or to schedule a walk-through inspection, contact building official and fire marshal Wade Duffy at email@example.com or 360-491-5642.
6. That freezer full of rotten food? It might be covered by insurance
Homeowners and business owners’ insurance policies cover damage from thunderstorms, according to NW Insurance Council, a nonprofit that helps educate consumers about insurance.
Vehicles damaged in a storm may be covered under comprehensive auto coverage.
Some polices provide as much as $1,000 coverage for spoiled frozen and refrigerated food after 72 hours of continuous power interruption.
For tips, go to the Northwest Insurance Council website.
7. Wi-fi hotspots are open for your use.
Comcast has opened to the public its XFINITY WiFi outdoor hotspot network throughout the Olympia area. The network consists of more than 1,000 of XFINITY WiFi hotspots, where anyone with a Wi-Fi-enabled device will be able to get online. As long as a hotspot location has power, it will be available to anyone. These free hotspots will stay open through 9 a.m. May 12.
For a map of XFINITY WiFi hotspots, located in places such as shopping districts, parks and businesses, see www.xfinity.com/wifi. Then, follow these instructions to get connected.
- Search for a hot spot by ZIP code or city.
- Once at a hotspot, select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots on your device and launch a browser.
- XFINITY Internet customers can sign in with their username and password, and will be automatically connected at XFINITY WiFi hotspots in the future.
- Non-XFINITY Internet subscribers should visit the “Not an XFINITY Internet Customer” section on the sign-in page. Non-customers will be able to renew their complimentary sessions every two hours.
- This video demonstrates how to sign into an Xfinity WiFi Hotspot.
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433