NEWPORT, Wash. -- Pend Oreille Public Utility District (PUD) No.1 received a check today for $392,214 from state and federal emergency management officials to pay for the relocation of electrical lines that were extensively damaged in the 1996 Ice Storm disaster.
A ceremony in PUD's Newport offices highlighted the completion of a $708,135 project to relocate over 18 miles of the utility district's electrical lines.
In late November 1996, an ice storm struck large sections of Eastern Washington. Major sections of Pend Oreille PUD's electrical distribution system were damaged or destroyed, leaving some customers without power for weeks. A federal disaster was declared for Pend Oreille in January 1997.
"A major goal of federal disaster assistance is to help local communities prevent future disaster damage," said FEMA Acting Regional Director Tammy Doherty. "Every dollar spent to mitigate or to prevent disaster damage in Washington state saves at least $2.25 in the reduced cost or impact of disasters."
Washington Emergency Management Division (WEMD) Director Glen Woodury, said the project demonstrates how to use the lessons from past disasters to better prepare for future emergencies. "Our ultimate goal is disaster resistant communities across our state," he said.
According to Daniel Peterson, President of Pend Oreille PUD Board of Commissioners, electrical distribution lines that were once built through nearly inaccessible terrain, using the "as the crow flies" methodology of the late 1940s and early 1950s, have been relocated to county road rights-of-way to provide easy access for future repair and maintenance work. "Completion of this project has greatly improved the service reliability in the Spring Valley, Bob/Danforth, and other areas of the county," said Peterson. "When there are occasional outages, the District's crews will be able to access, make repairs, and restore services in an expeditious manner."