November Storm

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The November 15 storm was scary and hilarious.

While checking out the beach for photos from the Clallam Bay Park, I heard what sounded like an explosion behind me. When I whirled around, the air seemed to be white, it was tearing toward me so fast. I threw myself on my back, to keep from being sommersaulted over the fences into the river.

“That’s it,” I thought. “I’m not running around trying to find photos in this! They don’t pay me enough!”

Jumping into my truck, I turned out of the parking lot in time to see huge strips of tin rolling and sliding down Highway 112 toward me; my truck and the metal did a scary little dance before l managed to skid up into the Clallam Bay Grocery Store parking lot. I hopped out of the truck into the howling storm, camera in hand, laughing my head off.

Cars and trucks skidded and braked around the big rattling pieces of tin.

Sue Heiny, standing on the deck of Sue’s gallery, waved at me. “Get this!” she yelled above the storm, pointing at gutters that had been torn off the gallery by pieces of the grocery store roof. “And look at this!” Her car’s rear windows had been shattered by more of the flying debris.

Dave Weir, at Al’s Mini-Mart, saw the roof as it lifted off.

“It came up like a big bird,” said Dave, demonstrating with his hands. “Then it ripped into pieces and flew all over the place. Cars were ducking it everywhere!”

Brian Adler saw the roof go up and and he and Patti high-tailed it down from their new home on the hill to help clear up the debris and take photos.

Arlen Olsen was unharmed when his truck took a tree right in the windshield, just as he was approaching the bridge on the west end of town. Unable to control his truck, he ran across the road and plowed into the mud. But he wasn’t hurt.

Sekiu’s By The Bay Cafe got up and running again when owner Bob Cain hooked up a generator in the morning.

“There were extension cords all over the place!” said Kathy Blevins, who works at the cafe. “But it was a needed service.”

The By The Bay stayed open late to provide comfort and sustenance to residents who had no other way to stay warm or obtain hot food, or just wanted a respite from the tension of living with a storm.

“Our customers said we had great ambiance, with all the candles before the generator started,” grinned Blevins.

Brian and Patti Adler were just one more cold, wet couple who got warmed up at the Cafe.

“Man, those guys at the Cafe are good sports for those hanging in there for us,” said Patti.

The Adlers, part of the Emergency Preparedness Team, were out seeing who they could help. Newly moved, they had stored all their emergency equipment in a local storage area. The storage area’s owner was busy digging a trench in the driving rain to keep units from flooding. The Adlers grabbed what they could and went on, victims of the cabin fever we get in a storm.

“We got so nervous looking for trouble at the house that we went out to see what we could do for cleanup and picking up Rocky Hinckle’s resort. A tree fell down in her yard and a light burst into fire, but we got that.”

The Schwans frozen-food delivery truck driver took a break from servicing his route to get a hot meal and a warm-up at the Cafe.

The Clallam Bay/Sekiu Chamber of Commerce meeting was canceled, and it was rough work trying to contact everyone, with all the phones and email out of service.

On Thursday, November 16, a bit of panic started when office people at the Forks Forum began calling Clallam Bay contacts, asking, “Where’s Denise?” The newspaper editor Denise Dunne-Devaney had not shown up at the Forum offices at her regular time and her phone, while ringing, was not answered.

Several town residents raced up to the Dunne-Devaney home on the Sekiu River Road, where they found Charles Devaney and all the dogs perfectly well. The couple had not been able to chop their way free of the windfall debris in their driveway until 9:00 on Monday morning.

The Clallam Bay Store was lit up like a cathedral by sunshine pouring in through the stripped roof. The store has been closed since April 1, 2006. Pieces of tin from the store are scattered across the whole town.

“There’s a lot of potential for more danger from that store in the next storm,” said Patti Adler. “Those big pieces of tin could decapitate someone. We need to get out there and get it cleaned up. There’s a big tree down in the Clallam River behind the RV park — if we get more trees down, we’ll have a log jam. We have to prepare for the coming storms before someone gets hurt or stranded or both.”

The Adlers’ had their own problems, when much of the roof of their new house came up; they can’t touch it until it has been examined for insurance purposes.

Lynn Olsen, of Olsen’s Resort in Seikiu, said, “Barometric pressure at Olsen’s resort was at 29.3.”

The Resort’s storage building was badly damaged by the wind, as was the sign at van Riper’s resort, and the roof at the Sekiu Community Center.

Winds at Olsen’s were clocked at 91 mph — powerful enough to throw the Resort’s big wooden folk-art elk on its side with its head in a shed.

Fire Chief Gene Laes will address Emergency Preparedness at the town meeting 6:00 Tuesday evening at the Sekiu Community Center.

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