CORRECTED — Thursday’s storm rakes Peninsula — flooding in Brinnon and Quilcene, a jetty failing in LaPush, a collapsed neighborhood bridge in Port Angeles

The collapsed private bridge over the East Fork of Lees Creek on Garling Road east of Port Angeles. Courtesy of Evan M. Gallacci

The collapsed private bridge over the East Fork of Lees Creek on Garling Road east of Port Angeles. Courtesy of Evan M. Gallacci

CORRECTIONThis has been corrected to say that the families trapped by the collapse of a bridge on Garling Road are on the west side of the bridge.

ON THURSDAY AFTERNOON, North Olympic Peninsula officials were simultaneously cleaning up from Tuesday and Wednesday storms and preparing for a third storm.

With flooding in Brinnon and Quilcene, a jetty failing in LaPush and a collapsed neighborhood bridge in Port Angeles, authorities continued working as the new storm moved in.

Families from eight homes were evacuated from near the Duckabush River in Brinnon, where the river flooded Wednesday starting at about 4 p.m., said Brinnon Fire Chief Patrick Nicholson.

Some 8,500 Peninsula electrical customers suffered power interruptions.

The Elwha River Bridge over U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles was reopened at about 6 a.m. Thursday, more than 12 hours after it had been closed at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Several cottonwoods on the east side of the bridge fell on power lines and the bridge, scattering parts of one pole across the bridge.

Power lines draped under the bridge, nearly to the water line of the flooded Elwha River.

The bridge was closed until it could be inspected by the state Department of Transportation, which found the only damage to the bridge itself was to a section of guardrail.

The majority of Clallam County was relatively quiet Thursday, said Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron.

Cameron said the latest forecast indicated that Port Angeles and Sequim would likely be spared the worst of the storm, but there were still uncertainties for the West End, and situations can change.

“If it’s raining in the Olympics we could still get stuff trickling our way. We’re keeping an eye on the rivers,” Cameron said.

Rural bridge

In Port Angeles, a small neighborhood bridge was closed Thursday morning.

The bridge on Garling Road off of Mount Pleasant Road collapsed when saturated soil at one end gave way and dropped the bridge into the creek bottom, Cameron said.

The privately owned bridge, which crosses East Fork Lees Creek, serves several homes on the west side of the bridge, he said.

Cameron said the six families trapped on the west side of the bridge are seeking another route out of their neighborhood, though there is no other established route out of the area.

He said authorities are watching the situation and ready to assist if the trapped families have an emergency

LaPush jetty

Levies protecting LaPush were found to be eroding Wednesday, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews were shoring them up Thursday.

The Corps of Engineers, which has a web camera installed to monitor the jetty, contacted the tribe and offered assistance in shoring up the location.

A work crew added several hundred tons of rock to prevent further erosion.

“As always we are thankful for the Army Corps offer of assistance and quick responses to these emergency situations” said Chairman Chas Woodruff.

Little snow

On Hurricane Ridge, in the Olympic National Park, the first two storms had a snow level of 7,000 feet and melted almost all of the snow laid down by earlier storms melted away.

New snow began falling late Wednesday, and about 2 inches of new snow blanketed the ridge Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service station below the ridge.

Only a few additional inches snow are forecast for the Olympics before Saturday, when the National Weather Service forecast said the sun may make an appearance and weather will return to a more typical pattern.

Power outages

In Jefferson County, Jim Parker, Public Utility District manager, said that by Thursday afternoon, about 40 power outages had occurred so far, with most of them fixed within a few hours.

About half of the 19,000 customers of the PUD were without power at one point on Wednesday night, Parker said.

In addition to the two four-man crews employed by the PUD, an extra crew was brought into service.

“Things have quieted down now and we could send them away but if we did that we might not get them back,” Parker said on Thursday.

“We could get some more severe wind tonight so we want to keep them here.”

Parker said crews were standing by for damage caused by the expected storm, which were expected to be primarily wind related, compared to Wednesday’s flooding problems.

To report an outage in Jefferson PUD areas, phone 360-385-5800

In Clallam County, power was cut to 563 customers from Laird’s Corner to Lake Sutherland at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Clallam County Public Utility District spokesman Michael Howe said power was restored by 4:24 a.m. Thursday and crews were on standby for any new problems created by the new storms.

“We’re ready,” Howe said.

To report an outage in the Clallam PUD area phone 360-452-9771 or 800-542-7859

School delays

Schools in South Jefferson County opened late Thursday, or ran alternate bus routes to avoid flooded roads and downed trees, and may do so again today.

“We needed to change a couple of routes due to roads closed and flooding. We ran on snow routes,” said Wally Lis, who is superintendent of both Quilcene and Brinnon school districts.

On Thursday the routes were altered as needed, and school officials planned revaluate the routes again late Thursday and this morning to determine how the districts will be managed today, Lis said.

Parents will be notified by phone if alterations to the Friday schedule will be made, he said.

He said students who did not attend school because of concerns about weather and flooding have been given excused absences.

Chimacum School District cancelled after-school events on Thursday, “due to potential high winds and inclement weather,” according to the district website.

Canceled activities included boys’ and girls’ basketball practice, after school tutoring, teen center and a college financial aid workshop.

________

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant contributed to this story.

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