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Preparations and Precautions for Harbor’s Winter Storms

Well, this past week threw a bunch of weather our way! Nothing like a windstorm with driving rain and plenty of power outages to get one’s attention!

After this series of storms it’s hard to know where to begin– we have so much to talk about!

Handing out kudos for a job well done is as good a place to start as any.


In Grays Harbor, we are so fortunate to have so many well trained and hard-working PUD employees, and city and county crews.

Thanks to all for the extra hours in the often miserable, dangerous conditions to make our houses, cities and county safer and more comfortable! It was a job well done this week, working hard to keep up with the aftermath of several storms!

City and county crews were busy clearing roads and streets, cleaning out storm drains to help prevent flooding, and helping out in a variety of ways.

On Monday alone some 10,000 households were without power in Grays Harbor, everywhere from South Beach to Moclips, Lake Quinault, Elma, Central Park and more. Just about everywhere except downtown Aberdeen and Hoquiam, experienced power outages. But, thanks to our proficient PUD crews, almost all areas were up and going in a relatively short time!

“We are very proud of the reliability of our power system, but on the Washington Coast when it starts gusting 50 and 60 miles an hour, outages will happen, so it’s always best to be prepared,” said Ian Cope, Grays Harbor PUD’s communication director.


Before we offer some tips for power outages, we want to relay Ian’s number one concern in such storms – “Don’t touch downed power lines!”

“Stay away from downed power lines! Sometimes people think that if a line is down on the ground or dangling, it is no longer energized. That could not be further from the truth. Stay away from it and immediately call the PUD hotline – (360) 537-3721 or (888) 541 5923, or 911, or both! Let the experts deal with it,” he said.

Perhaps, it’s because most people don’t encounter a downed line very often, we may be distracted or just not remember how lethal it is. Ian reminds us again that to always assume any power line – even if it is dangling, or in the street, or if houses around it have no power – is still energized and therefore something you should stay far away from.


How many of you were scrambling around to find a flashlight or wondering what you could possibly have for dinner this past week?

We’ll say it again: The time is now to prepare for disaster – especially for power outages.

The PUD website at has a great list of items to have in an Emergency Kit or “Go Bag,” as does the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management website (

Here are some highlights of what you should do to be prepared.

  • Put together at least one “Go Bag” – it could be a backpack, a plastic tote or a handled cloth bag. Store it in your home, or consider storing it in your car so that you have it wherever you are.

  • Build up your larder now. The squirrels do it and the pioneers did it and we should do it too! Stock up your shelves with food items you will use in the next few months, but will be available in case you can’t get to a store.

  • Remember some kind of protein like spam, tuna, canned chicken and peanut butter.

  • Don’t forget drinking water. Have plenty on hand for you, your family and pets.

  • Get some cash to have on hand. Often when the power goes out stores and gas stations don’t have the ability to process credit cards. Make sure to have the money in smaller denominations – like $10s and $20s.

  • Consider keeping 10 gallons of gas around, safely stored. Cycle it through your lawn mower or car once a month so the supply stays fresh. Then you’ll have the gas needed for a generator – or even your car.

  • Also, make a habit of keeping your gas tank at least half full. When power goes out throughout a community, pumping gas may not be possible, so it’s good to be prepared.

  • Think ahead and make sure you have plenty of prescription medication on hand.

  • Don’t forget your pets – build up their larder – and any other things they might need such as medicine, litter, etc.


Even though we should all try to be prepared at all times for the possibility of a storm or other weather event or power outage, it is still helpful to have a heads up when something is coming our way.

So, we thought we’d tell you several ways to get more up-to-date information for your area.

The quickest way to receive emergency and disaster information from Grays Harbor County Emergency Management is to follow that office on Facebook and Twitter. (Twitter at, and Facebook under Grays Harbor County Emergency Management.)

In addition, we recommend signing up for the Grays Harbor County Notification System for emergency and disaster alerts from Grays Harbor County Emergency Management via phone call, text and e-mail. Sign up for the notification system by going to the county’s website under “info.”

Another way to learn about severe weather is to purchase an All Hazard ALERT Weather Radio. This radio comes on with immediate alerts for severe weather and disaster information. They can be purchased at many hardware stores. (And make excellent Christmas gifts!)

Speaking of radio, our excellent local AM/FM radio stations are experts at transmitting the most up-to-date information about disasters and weather conditions. You’ll want to make sure you know where to find them on your dial.


As you prepare yourself and your home for power outages, we will be preparing the next few columns on coping with various kinds of harsh weather including wind storms, rain storms and cold spells. Stay tuned!

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen

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