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I couldnt believe what I was reading
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, in both Seattle dailies, was asking people not to use stoves and fireplaces during the outages, or to burn small hot fires with dry wood. This produces less smoke, making breathing easier for those with heart and respiratory problems.
Are these people nuts? Do they think were nuts? Do they really think that people are not going to use their wood stoves or fireplaces when its freezing outside and their furnace isnt running because the power is out? We had professionally installed a small kitchen woodstove years ago just to deal with the frequent power outages we endured because we live on a country road lined on both sides with alders and firs.
They surely couldnt have heard that woman who called KOMO radio during the blackout, crying because her husband was in Iraq, she was at home with six children and were freezing. The station got to work getting her some assistance although I have to say if my husband was in Iraq and I had any children at home and we were freezing, I would get them somehow to the nearest public building, be it a government office, a recruiting station or a library and hunker down. The PSCAA gave a pitch about how bad the outside air was because more people were using wood stoves and fireplaces for heat and recommended people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors. Well, thats a no brainer. They have no business being outdoors in such weather unless its to get to and from their cars or woodpiles.
I read another account of agency and government actions that didnt make sense to me. Bainbridge Island was hit hard in the storm and many there were out of power for days. Frustrated residents questioned how come a Red Cross warming station wasnt opened until Monday, the fifth day.
The way the Red Cross works, Red Cross manager Skip DeHennis said, we cannot open a shelter until were requested to by a governing body. They werent asked until Monday, he said.
When asked why the city didnt ask for the warming station sooner, City Administrator Mary Jo Briggs said the city waits until there is an indication of need from the local fire department and the Red Cross. That word didnt come until Monday. Theyll do an after action analysis.
Hundreds of people shivered in the cold while the Red Cross and the City of Bainbridge Island each waited for the other to call first. During all this time, people all over the state were being encouraged to check up on their neighbors and see if they needed help. Would it have been some violation of protocol for the Red Cross to call the City the day after the storm or vice versa, share information on the damage and decide whether to get the ball rolling on relief? My power was out for three days. I consider myself one of the lucky ones because I had my wood stove to keep me warm, although I had some fairly sleepless nights because I had to get up every couple of hours and throw some more wood on the fire. I also have gravity flow water, another blessing many others did not have. I read of one man who was brushing his teeth with Diet Cola for lack of water.
When Humphrey Bogart was making The African Queen in Africa, he avoided the local water to the extent of brushing his teeth with gin. He was the only person in the entire film company who never got sick.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA 98340.