How homeowners can lessen risk of damage from downed trees, power lines

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BELLEVUE — Whenever the rain falls hard in the Pacific Northwest and wind gusts are strong, a lot of us look up at trees, hoping they don’t come down. But that’s exactly what happened Thursday afternoon in Bellevue.

“I heard a large pop and I looked up and I see the tree go over. I was worried about someone being hurt because it took the power lines down with it,” neighbor Pat Crain said.

There were power outages for a short while but the good news is no one was hurt.

A tree also came down in north Seattle right on top of a homeowner.

Fortunately, he’s going to be OK.

“The tree fell over and pinned him face down. He was pinned between a fence and the tree, underneath the tree,” Seattle Fire Department Deputy Chief Bryan Hastings said.

Seattle City Light and other area utilities spent much of Thursday afternoon rushing from place to place, making repairs and rehanging power lines.

A Puget Sound Energy crew made the rounds on Whidbey Island.

Most utilities spent a lot of time this year getting ready for days like this.

"Each year we trim more than 600 miles of power lines to provide a clearance and reduce the chance of contact between the trees or branches and those wires. We can't eliminate that risk entirely but we can reduce it somewhat,” Seattle City Light spokesman Scott Thomsen said.

Thomsen say while they do their part homeowners must do their part as well, not just to protect their homes but to make sure they don't end up in the dark.

"Any trees that are near the service line that connects them, you know, their house, their business, to the transformer out at the street, you want to keep that clear. You want to pay attention to the growth of the tree and whether that needs to be trimmed back,” Thomsen said.

Thomsen says it is also time to put together an emergency preparedness kit with at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water, just in case you need it.

It's all part of taking winter by storm.

If you need to know what to put in that kit, go to takewinterbystorm.org

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