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Winds, high seas lash Washington

BY P.J. HELLER | Westport, WA | March 5, 1999

Strong winds gusting to 100 mph and high seas with waves of 48 feet lashed the Washington coast this week, knocking out power,

downing trees, snarling transportation, closing schools and causing minor flooding.

"We knew (the storm) was coming on shore," said Karen Frinell-Hanrahan, deputy director of emergency management for Grays Harbor

County. "We just didn't realize how bad (it would be)."

Washington Gov. Gary Locke declared a state of emergency in five western counties in the wake of the storm. The Grays Harbor County

Board of County Commissioners signed a local declaration of emergency and the towns of Ocean Shores and Westport have also declared

emergencies in response to the tidal surge and wind.

A 36-year-old motorist was killed and three passengers were injured when an 18-inch diameter tree fell on their car on the Tulalip Indian

Reservation about 40 miles north of Seattle. No other injuries or fatalities were reported.

Some voluntary evacuations were reported along the coast, at the Quinault Indian Nation and in the town of Raymond in Pacific County.

Residents were back in their homes on Thursday, officials reported.

Electrical power was also being restored throughout the region following the Tuesday night and Wednesday storms. The storm knocked

out power to more than 250,000 people in the region.

Fire department officials in Raymond had considered closing off the downtown area on Wednesday, fearing an afternoon tidal surge

would create havoc in the town of 2,800 people. Those plans were cancelled when the winds died down and the surge danger lessened.

"Mostly we're just cleaning up," Raymond Fire Marshall Bob Hathaway reported on Thursday. "Some businesses had about two or three

inches of water."

About two dozen residents were evacuated from their apartment complexes in the town. They were taken to St. Lawrence Catholic

Church, then later transported to Willapa High School, where the American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter. Only one resident

required overnight accommodations, Hathaway reported.

Frinell-Hanrahan said damage assessments were being conducted Thursday in Ocean Shores and Westport, two popular tourist

destinations that attract upwards of 20,000 to 30,000 visitors during the tourist season.

Several roads in the county were closed due to water and debris, including rocks and downed trees, she reported.

Of more concern, she said was the continuing erosion in the community of Ocean Shores.

"Ocean Shores is having a huge erosion problem," she said. "Storms are eating away at the embankment around the town. Any storm like

this has a huge impact on Ocean Shores because of the erosion problem. It compounds it."

Although Washington bore the brunt of the storm, other areas from Portland, Ore., to Vancouver, B.C. also felt the effects of the storm.


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