It has been a busy few weeks for the Pend Oreille PUD with two storms knocking out power twice and crews are still working overtime to restore power to all residents and clean up the mess from both storms.
The PUD has 1,100 miles of power lines and Chris Jones said most of those lines were damaged in one storm or the other. Jones said PUD crews have been working 18 hour shifts to get everything back up and running.
“We were about six hours from finishing the first storm and we got hit with this second one and pretty much had to start over,” he said.
Four thousand people, roughly half the PUD's customers, were without power Saturday, and its been a non-stop effort to get those people power ever since.
“It was a little overwhelming,” Jones said.
In 21 years with the PUD Jones has never seen anything like what he just experienced.
“Summer-wise, this is by far the worst major storm event that I have seen in the summertime,” he said.
The main goal the last six days has been to restore power and that goal has almost been accomplished. Now it's time to replace the approximately 100 downed or damaged power poles. It's a daunting task made easier thanks to the 25 college students who work for them through a summer program who have been key in speeding up the clean-up process.
“Especially these last few since that first storm hit, we have been hands on about 16-18 hours a day, you gotta work pretty fast,” incoming college freshman Avery Miller said.
Miller is getting some hands on lessons this summer he would never find sitting in a classroom.
“I'm kind of going into this field so it's great, it gets my foot into this door, that way I know what I'm doing and makes college a little easier," he said.
There's still a lot of work to be done along Highway 211 where a lot of the damaged happened but the PUD is determined to get it done safely and securely. Pend Oreille PUD hopes to return power to the roughly 40 customers still without power by Saturday evening.