Juneau’s first big fall storm caused a lot of damage over the weekend, and cleanup looks like it could last through the week.
Forecasters warned that high winds and rain for much of Southeast Alaska could cause power outages and at about 9:15 on Friday night, the lights went out for nearly everyone in Juneau.
“The high winds from the storm that came through caused our conductors to make contact on the Snettisham line which caused Snettisham to trip off,” said Alaska Electric Light and Power’s Debbie Driscoll.
Driscoll said when Snettisham tripped, that took pretty much everyone in town down. Power was restored for that area-wide outage within the hour.
But there were pockets of outages all over town. Driscoll said power was restored to most places relatively quickly. The one that took the longest was in the Mendenhall Peninsula area and around Engineer’s Cutoff. That outage lasted until Sunday evening.
“That area got hit particularly hard, there were many trees that came down, broke multiple poles, tore down power lines, damaged transformers and it was just — the extent of the damage was so great, compared to what we would normally see in a storm like that,” she said.
She said the sheer volume of trees that came down made the outage there difficult to fix; the company had multiple broken power poles to repair. Images from the Mendenhall Peninsula area show trees on houses, cars and blocking roads. She says the crews were also contending with trees falling while they were working.
Juneau Police Department spokesperson Krag Campbell said Juneau police got a lot of calls over the weekend as well — most of them were for downed trees in roads. Campbell said they got a few calls about property damage too, including one home on Glacierwood Avenue.
“They had a tree fall and crush a fuel tank,” Campbell said. “I know of at least two cars that were crushed by fallen trees.”
Campbell said there were also reports of rocks falling down into the roadway out by the ferry terminal, a boat broke free at one of the harbors, and a tree caught fire out by the Shrine of Saint Therese.
One person called for help after becoming trapped in an elevator in one of the hotels in the Mendenhall Valley. Campbell said that person got out of the elevator before needing to be rescued.
He said there were no reports of storm-related injuries.
Driscoll said the first big fall storm tends to catch people by surprise. She said people should have an emergency kit ready for storms. But also asked that people call the utility’s outage-specific line at 907-586-AELP when their power goes out. That ensures that all of the information about outages goes to the right place.
“We fielded hundreds of messages through Facebook messenger and comments, hundreds and hundreds and so it’s hard to ensure that every single one of those gets addressed in a timely manner by the one person who deals with the social media accounts,” she said.
By Monday afternoon, Driscoll said pretty much everyone in town should have their power back.