WHITE SALMON, Wash. -- Friday afternoon Klickitat PUD crews were working to bring power and heat to their 150 customers who had been without it for eight days.
Last week 11,000 of their 12,000 customers lost their electricity after an ice storm.
"We've been here for 28 years and the longest we can remember being out of power was six hours until now," said Wayne Lease. "Last week his neighborhood sounded like a war zone, with 100-foot firs crashing down from the heavy ice."
It picked up energy and sliced that house in half," he said as he pointed at his neighbor's destroyed home.
No one was inside the house at the time. Similar trees took down power lines across Klickitat County and it took crews days just to get to the lines because roads were impassable.
Pacific Power's removal of the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River may have also slowed down power recovery efforts.
"There are some changes to the transmission service, and that may or may not have had an impact on our loss of transmission service," said Jim Smith of Klickitat PUD.
Pacific Power's Tom Gauntt said the changes played only a minor role in the lengthy outage.
"Instead of using a substation at the old dam we had to use one near Hood River and it was tough to reach the switch because of downed trees," he said.
The dam removal is already a sore subject for Lease and his neighbors. The placid lake behind his home now looks like a mini Grand Canyon. As the river cuts a new channel, it now threatens to take homes with it. A few residents have left, as the canyon gets too close for comfort.
To make matters worse, many of the water wells in the neighborhood dried up soon after the dam was removed. Pacific Power has offered to help with the cost of replacement wells and has started to hold meetings with affected homeowners.
It's been a tough year for many in White Salmon, but electricity is finally being restored after a record-breaking outage.