Crews kept busy keeping up with weekend's snow
December 30, 2021
While the Washington State Department of Transportation clears SR 4 and other state roads, and the Town of Cathlamet is responsible for city streets, the Wahkiakum County Road Department has been preparing and clearing county roads since the snow started falling in Wahkiakum.
Jeff Tobin, the head of the county road department, is up early each morning to check on the roads.
“We’re trying to keep up,” Tobin said.
There are two crews working four plows, with one spare ready to go: one crew on the east end of the county, and the other on the Westend. Each crew rotates three drivers during these rare severe weather events, with two driving, while one rests.
The crews use deicer, sand, salt, or a mixture, depending on the terrain, or they are busy clearing downed trees.
The crews are responsible for all the side streets in the county, on Puget Island, in Skamokawa, Grays River, Elochoman Valley Road, Beaver Creek Road, and so on.
They help out with Columbia Street in Cathlamet when they can get to it, and have already sprayed it with deicer.
“The PUD deserves some kudos, they were out 20 some hours one night to get all the power back on,” Tobin said.
The Wahkiakum County PUD has been busy.
On Tuesday afternoon, there were no known outages, PUD General Manager Dan Kay said, but there were several outages on Sunday into early Monday morning. Crews responded to the Elochoman Valley past Beaver Creek Road, East Valley Road, SR 4 east of the 1300 block to county line, and SR 4 in Grays River near Loop Road, and to a few smaller outages around the county as well.
“All the power was restored by 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon,” Kay said. “The snow settles on tree branches, that then settle or more often break off and land on power lines causing short circuits.”
Kay warned that Wahkiakum could see more outages with the current weather.
“We are prepared and ready to handle them,” he said. “We are here to serve our customers.”
He asked people to remember to never touch a downed power line, and to please slow down when they see flashing lights from any vehicles, regardless of whether they were PUD, county vehicles, or law enforcement.
Kay expressed gratitude to the community for their continued support of the PUD.
“It takes a tremendous amount of work, especially during weather like this,” he said. “We would also like to thank the county, the sheriff’s department, and the Washington State Patrol for their additional support in clearing roads, taking calls, and aiding in traffic control.”