Skykomish, Baring still without power after nearly a week

VIDEO: Utility crews battle elements to get power lines reconnected

Skykomish and Baring are still without power after nearly a week.

Heavy snow and wind brought down trees and power lines and utility crews are battling the elements to get the lights back on, working 24/7.

They’re working under trees still heavy and loaded with snow - some, a hundred feet tall.

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A spokesperson with PSE said BNSF Railway crews have cleared 600 downed trees between Gold Bar and Baring, where the power line runs close to the tracks.

“They would put wire up, go down the road put another section up, and they’d hear tree limbs cracking, they’d go back, and the same wire was down,” said Tom Koeppel, a manager with PSE. “It gets frustrating believe me,” he said.

Many of the areas where lines came down are in ravines or terrain that can only be accessed by using snowcats.

People without power have been using wood or pellet stoves to stay warm.

“This is the worst it’s been with the highway and the trees coming down and the conditions that I have seen in 18 years,” said Amy Aman, who lives in Baring.

But with mostly clear weather on Thursday, PSE crews said they made a lot of progress. Koeppel said it would be days more before power is fully restored, but Thursday night they managed to deliver light and warmth in another way.

Crews brought in large generators to get power to the Baring Store and Post Office – and the “open” sign lit up for the first time in six days Thursday night.

“We got power!” said Misty Jones, who owns the store with her husband.

PSE also got a generator to the Skykomish gas station - the only one in the area - and to the pizza shop.

“This was a special circumstance. This devastation was far more than we’ve ever seen up here and with the length of time people are going to be out - it’s kind of a good faith gesture on our part to come up and do what we can to get some of the key places back in lights,” Koeppel said.

More snow started falling in Baring on Thursday night.

“Here we go again,” Aman said.

But at least now the highway is open all the way to Stevens Pass and people say they know the community – especially volunteers - will support them.

“It’s been amazing,” Aman said.

Volunteer organizers say a caravan of more than 100 cars will drive to Index, Baring, and Skykomish on Friday to help people still in need. Some people have their wells frozen over with no power and cars buried under snow.

Dozens of volunteers made a first delivery of supplies on Wednesday.