Snow Day brings Arlington to standstill
August 27, 2008 · Updated 3:34 PM
ARLINGTON Many Arlington-area residents were left without power or transportation in the wake of the seasons first snowfall, as Nov. 27 saw both the city of Arlington and the Arlington School District closed for business, along with several of the communitys downtown merchants.
Ryan and Heidi Cibert took their children, Ryley and Hannah, on a quick tromp through the snow for breakfast, but they planned to spend the rest of their snow day indoors decorating their Christmas tree. For Ryan, it was a day off from his job as a framing contractor, and unlike many of their neighbors in Sisco Heights, his family still had power to their home.
It was terrible on Highway 9 coming here, with the trees down on the road, said Heidi Cibert. Well try and steer clear of it on our way back.
Dave Hutton, a Camano Island resident since 1997, reported that his house was one of the last glimmers of light to go out that morning, and likewise described Arlington as the first flicker of light that hed seen since driving from his home that morning.
The powers shot, all through Camano Island and Stanwood, said the retiree, as he exited Broosters Cafe. I wasnt about to drive all the way down to Everett for a meal.
While Hutton could do without the power outages that such snowfalls can bring, he calmly recalled that weather like this comes and goes, and Ive seen it like this before. It doesnt bother me that much, because I enjoy driving around and looking at it all.
The nearby Bluebird Cafe hosted a trio that expressed an equally placid outlook, while they took in a late breakfast. Snohomish County Public Utility District line apprentice Don Bankson, journeyman mechanic Tim Cowan and auto parts specialist Bill Davis began their shifts at approximately 7:30 p.m., Nov. 26, and didnt sit down to eat until 11:30 a.m., Nov. 27.
The PUD workers agreed that the bulk of their calls had come from falling trees bringing down power lines, and while they harbored no illusions that their remaining shifts would end before midnight, if were lucky, they thanked the number of local citizens who have brought them coffee and cookies, since we appreciate it, but theyre showing that they appreciate what we do for them so it works both ways.
Arlington firefighter Jason Huizenga echoed the PUD workers advice that area motorists either stay off the roads entirely, or else proceed with extreme caution if they must drive. He estimated that the Arlington Fire Department began its preparations for the snow day at approximately
2 p.m., Nov. 26, and explained that their vehicles all come equipped with snow chains.
Stay in your houses, where its safe, Huizenga said. If youve got a wood stove, use that to keep warm. If youre out of power altogether, just wait it out. PUD knows about the power outages, so you dont need to call them, because theyre already slammed.
The Arlington School District apparently took this advice to heart, since it cancelled its school days and evening activities for Nov. 27, including its board of directors meeting. ASD Public Information Coordinator Misti Gilman instructed parents and other concerned community member to check the ASD Web site, at www.asd.wednet.edu, for further updates.
Although Arlington Police Chief John Gray acknowledged that his officers responded to several snow-borne traffic hazards, such as trees blocking roads and vehicles losing traction, he nonetheless asserted that there were very few accidents as of press time.
Some people were simply caught unawares, Gray said. Either they had the wrong equipment or the wrong attitude. If youre overconfident your four-wheel-drive rig can still wind up in a ditch. Just remember where you live, because this is not that unusual.
Gray elaborated that the Arlington Police Department went to its snow operation plan for the snow day, by reacting to calls from citizens, rather than proactively patrolling the streets, as well as by double-teaming officers in their four-wheel-drive vehicles. While City Hall had to shut its doors for the day, due to lack of power, the police stations generator kept it running throughout the outages.
The downtown diners were among the few businesses that tried to stay open during the day, but while the Bluebird Cafe kept its power and stayed so busy with customers that none of its employees could spare the time for an interview, Broosters Cafe was forced to shut down after its outage at 11 a.m.
Because the cafes other employees were snowbound, owner Bruce Bruch and waitress Christy Whetstine were the serving staff until 9 a.m., when Bruces wife Robyn and Christys husband Chris arrived to clear tables and wash dishes.
We were swamped, Christ Whetstine said. It was standing room only until 11 a.m. We had people from Camano Island, Stanwood, Bryant, Darrington and Granite Falls, because none of them had any power.
As Bruce Bruch made his last order for the day, an assortment of sandwiches for the remaining employees and customers at the similarly powerless Arlington Hardware and Lumber, he praised his customers for being so patient with his shorthanded staff.