Public workers and volunteers responded to multiple power outages Friday night in Petersburg with a strong fall storm hitting Southeast Alaska.
Like other parts of the panhandle, residents of Petersburg saw heavy rainfall, strong winds and even thunder and lightning from the storm. The National Weather Service says the hurricane force low pressure system made landfall around Lituya Bay Saturday morning, causing problems throughout the region.
Petersburg utility director Karl Hagerman wrote a summary of the response. The first electrical outage was caused by a tree in the power lines on Sandy Beach Road early that evening. Petersburg Municipal Power and Light workers, the public works and police departments and fire volunteers responded, closed the road and cleared the tree from that spot on the local grid.
Another outage occurred along the line that parallels Mitkof Highway, leaving customers south of town without electricity. Hagerman wrote that utility workers who responded found themselves in the middle of an ongoing blowdown with multiple trees falling near power lines and across the highway. State Department of Transportation workers also worked with local utility crews to clear those downed trees about nine miles south of Petersburg.
Hagerman noted that employees and volunteers worked in extreme conditions and kept themselves safe while getting the job done.
Petersburg’s mayor and assembly praised the response at a Monday meeting. Here’s assembly member Jeff Meucci.
“You know we heard a little bit earlier about who helped out but you know we had public works, power and light, DOT, the fire department and volunteers showed up, we had two EMTs show up, admin staff showed up,” Meucci said. “It was just really impressive to see when the lights go out in Petersburg how quickly they can become, everyone can work together to solve a problem. And I was really impressed, I’d like to see that problem solving ethic with the rest of the community dealing with COVID but for me that was a bright spot. When the power goes out here I am pretty confident it’s going to be back on in a couple hours. Just a big thank you to everybody who was involved in it.”
The weather service reported a new daily record for Petersburg rainfall for October 1st, just over three and a half inches (3.54). The old record was three inches dating back to October 1st, 1952.
Falls Creek , 10 miles south of Petersburg, peaked just short of flood stage Friday night, with the gauge there showing 22.39 feet. A new water gauge at Twelvemile Creek north of Petersburg also showed a dramatic peak from Friday’s heavy rain.
In some parts of the region, weather stations recorded sustained winds of 60 miles an hour and gusts of over 90 miles and hour. Residents of Southeast reported thunder and lightning and power outages from downed trees in several communities.