City crews work around the clock to manage storm

As of early this afternoon, Mercer Island is doing quite well coping with the winter storm, city officials said. City crews have been working around the clock to manage the roads and keep Islanders safe.

Mercer Island City Manager Rich Conrad said that as of Wednesday morning, there had been just two sets of power outages on the Island, affecting a total of about 120 to 130 residents in the South end. Puget Sound Energy was able to respond quickly as the company had had crews here earlier in the day.

"The people at PSE told me that for once, Mercer Island was not a problem for them," Conrad said.

Police Officer Jennifer Franklin noted that the Island had been lucky, avoiding any major outages or emergencies so far. There was a fire in the 6500 block of West Mercer Way, but it was extinguished by PSE crews.

The roads are in pretty good shape, Conrad added, due to de-icing, salt, and plowing done ahead of the storm.

"We have six plows in use," he said, "four of which can sand and plow at the same time. The trucks have essentially been out 18 or more hours a day since before the storm began."

"Tuesday night we held crews here on the Island after five and have kept them here, working in shifts," he explained. "They have essentially been working around the clock. The trucks were out until very late last night, then up and back out at 3 a.m."

It is not as difficult this time, he said, keeping the roads passable. The combination of applying the de-icer and sand early has helped.

"These are lessons we learned over the last few years," he said. "This time we got ahead of things. It helped to do it when people are not on the streets."

Deputy City Manager Glenn Boettcher said that despite all efforts to keep roads clear, not all can be cleared in a timely manner.

"People do get frustrated when we cannot come quickly to clear their street," he acknowledged.

"We are staying focused on the main arterials," he said. "That means that it may be a while before we can get to every street and lane that is blocked."

The majority of city maintenance and safety people are working. City maintenance crews and parks crews are on duty and the police are chained up and on the roads, Conrad said. But Islanders have done their part, too.

"Mostly, people are doing the right things and staying off the road."


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