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Island gets a soaking - UPDATE

City crews scramble to stay abreast of swamped roads and flooded homes.

From the safety of the riverbank, Jane Miller couldn’t help but marvel at the effects of relentless rainfall on the stream in front of her.

Other than the massive volume of water, two things stood out: First, the riverbank in this case was Weaver Road. Second, the torrent was rushing through her daughter’s front yard.

“In the 18 years I’ve been here,” Miller said, “I’ve never seen water like this.”

Such statements were as easy to find as water Monday, as islanders waded into the workweek amid prolific rains that led the Governor, Kitsap County and the city to declare a state of emergency.

More than four inches of rain fell on Bainbridge Island Monday, according to measurements from the weather station at Sakai Intermediate School.

Roads were closed, power was out, trees and power lines were down and buildings around the island were flooded.

About 1,800 Bainbridge and North Kitsap customers were without power Monday afternoon, according to Puget Sound Energy. The majority of the outages were on High School Road, at Wing Point and near Tolo Road.

About 500 customers lost power near Murden Cove, said PSE spokesman Roger Thompson.

Power had been restored to all but a handful of customers by midday Tuesday.

The company was still responding to snow-related outages around the county when, with the latest storm, a new threat emerged.

“The outages we’re experiencing now are related to the water,” Thompson said Monday. “The rain is washing out trees and some of them are falling into power lines.”

Access to some of those outages was blocked by washed out roadways, further exacerbating the problem, he said.

PSE called in out-of-town crews in anticipation of the storm, which was forecast to bring heavy rain and wind into the region beginning Sunday. Conditions were worsened by melting snow that, along with rising rainwater, gathered in pools and flowed over streets in dozens of places.

Police, fire and city maintenance crews were out in force Monday trying to repair damage and remove debris clogging storm drains.

They laid out sandbags where they could, and documented damage with pictures and in logs.

“It’s about all we can do,” said city worker Paul Miller. “This isn’t a maintenance issue. There’s just too much water and all the culverts are full.”

Asked where the worst spots were, Miller shrugged.

“They’re all over,” he said.

Country Club Road was closed Monday to local traffic between Toe Jam Hill and Upper Farms roads; Manitou Beach Road was closed at Murden Cove.

A portion of Miller Road closed briefly at lunchtime while crews cleared a leaning tree.

Deputy Police Chief Mark Duncan said no injuries or traffic collisions were reported Monday, but not everyone had heeded road closures. A driver on High School Road escaped her flooded car after ignoring Public Works signs set out to warn motorists.

“She drove around the barricades and into the water at which point her car became a boat for a short period of time,” Duncan said. “I’m not sure how far it floated before it sank.”

Along Eagle Harbor Drive, sheets of water spilling over the roadway were rebuffed by a rising tide, filling the yard of Ray’s Automotive Service axle-deep in water and blocking entry to its office.

“When the tide came up it crested the water over the road and that was that,” owner Ray Adams said.

Adams and his employees used the shop’s rags, spare tires and seat covers to seal doorways and a neighbor brought bales to help stave off the flow.

In the afternoon a small landslide on a bank above Rolling Bay carried a heap of mud and brush across Johnson Road, cutting off access to at least one home. Even before emergency crews arrived, neighbors were busy digging away debris with shovels.

Residents said the banks and road are notoriously unstable, but they weren’t expecting the slope to give out where it did.

“It was kind of surprising,” Anne Lindquist said. “We walk that way to the beach all the time.”

Further north, Fay Bainbridge State Park was closed temporarily as rainwater turned its parking lot and picnic area into a playground for ducks and seagulls.

Nearby a section of Sunrise Drive was closed to traffic, and residents were doing what they could to divert water.

“I’ve never seen it in such bad shape,” said Sakai teacher Doug Olson, whose father-in-law was among those trying to thwart floodwaters.

Olson and his students have been tracking the rainfall at the school’s weather station. According to their data, the school received more than six inches of rain between Saturday and Tuesday midday; 4.23 inches fell Monday alone.

Power was lost in some classrooms. Still, except for some preschool and kindergarten classes, school remained in session Monday, though some after-school activities were canceled.

Classes were held Tuesday, which gave Olson and his students more time to crunch numbers. Monday’s rainfall total was nearly a record.

“It’s close,” he said, adding that he’ll know soon, after checking historical data. He already knew one thing for certain.

“These are some pretty incredible numbers,” he said.

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Storm stories

The city opened its Emergency Operations Center Monday to help deal with storm damage. Those in need of help can call 780-3726. To report a power outage, call Puget Sound Energy at 1-888-225-5773. PSE will update its website twice daily until power is restored. Sand bags are available at the Bucklin Hill Road fire station. Residents concerned about the safety or structural integrity of their storm-damaged homes can call the city’s building department at 842-2552. To follow rainfall totals see www.bainbridge.wednet.edu/?q=node/483.

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