City storm update

This week the city published some official storm data and estimates. First and foremost, Mercer Island did not have any injuries or health-related emergencies occur as a direct result of the storm. But five families have been left homeless because their homes have been “red tagged” by city inspectors because of the remaining risks from storm damage. City officials estimate that the total amount of structural damage to Island homes is $1.4 million. That does not include the costs of cleaning or hauling debris.

That debris, which Islanders had to chop, bundle and sweep up all week without power, amounted to 5,000 cubic yards that the maintenance department collected and hauled from its five drop-off locations around the Island.

For just the first weekend of the storm and its aftermath, city employees clocked in about 1,400 hours. During the night of and the day after the storm, the police department put in 115 overtime hours while the fire department had 64. Meanwhile, the city’s maintenance personnel were in it for the long haul, putting in the most overtime hours with 418.5.

The only street closure that remained at Reporter press time was a short section of 84th Avenue S.E. The street remained impassable because of a large sinkhole caused by a damaged sewer pipe. King County will build a temporary bypass pipe that will divert wastewater flows around the sewer line. Until repairs can be completed the bypass pipe will be laid out along S.E. 24th Street near 81st, cross the parking lot entrance to the Community Center at Mercer View and extend down 84th Avenue S.E. to a manhole near S.E. 26th Street.

The construction will periodically close one lane of the roadway and will affect Metro bus routes, which will be rerouted around the closure. Updates will be available on the city’s Web site as further information becomes available.

Transportation lunch

Mercer Island’s two state representatives will be speaking about local transportation issues at the Community Center tomorrow.

Two weeks ago Rep. Judy Clibborn (D) was appointed as the Chair of the House Transportation Committee and Rep. Fred Jarrett (R) was named the ranking minority member.

The two will be addressing the transportation plans to prevent and alleviate regional congestion problems, including the fate of Mercer Island SOV access in Interstate 90 express lanes, the upgrade of the SR 520 bridge and lightrail on the Eastside.

The speakers will be followed by a brief question-and-answer session. Call to reserve a space. 232-3404. Admission costs $18 for nonmembers and $15 for members.

Cable outages

While power was restored to all Islanders by Christmas Day, many were still left without their cable, Internet or phone service for an additional week or more.

Comcast trucks were all over the Island last week working to restore cable but the extent of the damage made it a lengthy process, a company spokesperson said.

The company reported last Wednesday that it had slightly less than 2,000 trouble calls out of its 1.2 million customers. Comcast estimated that about 550,000 Comcast customer homes were without cable service immediately after the high winds.

“The most common reason why cable service is out in some areas is that lines are down in areas where we were not able to begin work until a few days ago,” Walter Neary, a Comcast public relations manager wrote in a press release last week. “For safety reasons, our Comcast repair crews could not begin working in an area until after the power company has completed its work.”

Since PSE crews were still on the Island as late as Saturday, Dec. 23, Comcast crews were not able to restore their lost or damaged connections. Comcast said it concentrated its efforts in the most heavily damaged areas.

Mercer Island was one of the hardest hit areas because of the high number of downed trees causing numerous cable outages, Neary said. Comcast will be giving credit for lost time but is asking customers to call them since every situation is different.

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