City recovery begins

Published 10:48 am Sunday, August 28, 2011

John Rodman, Washington’s planning director, and Wayne Harrell, the city’s chief building inspector, were among several city and county officials who spent Sunday conducting damage assessments.

“We’ll be looking for a lot of (electrical) services that may be pulled from sides of houses, like overhead service drops. We’ll be looking for any structural damage, trees that may have fallen into residences or buildings — that kind of thing — floodwaters, if they’ve got floodwaters inside the house,” Harrell said. “We’ll be talking to homeowners to make sure they understand the procedure is getting that cleaned out. … There are some commercial buildings — I noticed that Makin’ Tracks has the canopy actually laying on the building — structural damage there. Those are the primary three things we’ll be looking for.”

Harrell, who has the power to condemn buildings and other structures, said condemnation would happen to protect the public.

“Anything that appears to a building inspector to be an imminent health hazard or imminent safety issue,” said Rodman in explaining what could lead to condemnation.

The assessments also help speed up the restoration of power, Rodman said.

“The city manager wants us to speed the process up by being proactive by making sure the service is OK so they can get it repaired and get the service back on, and they don’t have to wait for an inspection — that sort of thing,” Rodman said.

The assessment process also includes checking the city’s docks, Rodman noted.

“We’re going to check the docks to make sure they’re safe to bring the boats back up,” he said.

“We’re just trying to get ahead of it to make it as smooth a transition as possible,” Rodman said in explaining the need for post-storm assessments.

Asked about the overall condition of the city’s infrastructure, Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director, said, “We’re still doing assessments and everything. It will probably be between noon and 4 o’clock (Sunday) afternoon before we get a real good grasp on that as far as our infrastructure. From a public-works standpoint, (the pump station at) Jack’s Creek is back up and running. We lost power out there early yesterday morning and couldn’t do anything else with it. Once we got the power back on, it (the water level) was down in very short order. It’s down below sea level on the creek side now.”

Lewis’ remarks came shortly after 8 a.m. today.

Following a long-standing Washington tradition, people were waiting for the Mecca in downtown Washington to open its doors as soon as possible after a hurricane to serve food. This time the meal was breakfast.

“I said we’d be open as long as we have power to serve these customers,” said Danielle Hunnings, who, along with her husband, Mike, owns and operates the Mecca.

The Mecca’s front door opened at 8 a.m. today.