‘They said it’s the worst storm they ever saw’

Support efforts continue in Ferry County as emergency responders deal with the aftermath of a severe storm that brought with it wind gusts as high as 66 miles an hour sweeping into the area. The storm knocked out power and downed trees last Friday. Over 700 Avista customers in and around Colville lost power last Friday afternoon, according to Avista Senior Communications Manager, Jessie Wuerst. Ferry County took the brunt of the micro burst’s wrath, with over 3,000 homes and businesses losing power. As of Sunday morning, 1,000 customers had gotten their electrical service restored. “It was just incredible,” said Randall Hansen, who lives near Inchelium. “Our deck chairs were blown away, and we could hear stuff thumping into the side of the house. It just makes you feel so puny and fragile.” The winds were generated by the same thunderstorms that produced rain and hail across other parts of the region, said John Livingston, National Weather Service Meteorologist in the Spokane Office.Death on Colville National Forest A state of emergency has been declared by Ferry County officials, prompting assistance from the Red Cross and the Washington State Emergency Management Division. Refrigerated trucks for food storage and portable showers were delivered to the Keller Community Center last Saturday and 22 radios for search and rescue purposes were delivered from Stevens County to Ferry County. The Department of Social and Health Services has dispatched a mobile Customer Service Office to Keller. The office will assist with access to Basic Food (SNAP) benefits, medical benefits and monetary benefits. The office includes a wheelchair lift, semi-private interview areas, and a reception area for two to four persons, and sunshade for people to be protected from the elements. “Five major trees went down half a block from our house,” says Dick Graham, retired publisher of the Republic News Miner weekly newspaper. “The old-timers in the area said that it’s the worst storm they have ever seen.” According to Graham, the newspaper’s electricity was restored Sunday evening, but that the internet is not fully operational yet. “We have to take our backups over to Omak in order to get the newspaper out,” says Graham. “If you don’t have email, you don’t have a newspaper. We’ll survive though.” A death was reported on the Colville National Forest near Curlew during the thunderstorms, according to the Ferry County Sheriff’s Department. The name of the deceased has not yet been released. Meanwhile, Colville National Forest officials are advising against travel on the Republic Ranger District, where about 60 percent of the acreage experienced damage from the storms. The wind toppled trees and partially uprooted others, blocking trails and roadways and creating a situation with leaning trees that could still fall.