A mess on all fronts as Anchorage recovers from windstorm

Suzanna Caldwell
A felled tree and badly damaged shed at Airport Heights.
Amanda Coyne photo
A felled tree in Fairview.
Courtesy Thomas Higgins
A windstorm in Anchorage Tuesday night uprooted trees all over town, including this one on Anchorage's Airport Heights neighborhood.
Christopher Kelliher photo
ML&P work crew deals with a tree that downed a power line on Tudor a few blocks west of Lake Otis. Workers removed power lines and used a chain saw to cut away the tree.
Jill Burke photo
Kamaki Wilson, age 18, works a machete to clear a downed tree that had fallen across the sidewalk west of Tudor Blvd. Wilson moved here 6 months ago from Hawaii and is no stranger to wind storms and fallen debris.
Jill Burke photo
Sign at Starbucks at Tudor and C St. -- to the disappointment of caffeine freaks.
Jill Burke photo
ML&P work crew deals with a tree that downed a power line on Tudor a few blocks west of Lake Otis. Workers removed power lines and used a chain saw to cut away the tree.
Jill Burke photo
Damage from the freak storm that blew into Anchorage on Sept. 4, 2012. Picture taken in East Anchorage, near the Boniface Gate of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Community photo
APD Officers control traffic at Arctic and Tudor, where lights were out.
Jill Burke photo
A tree lies fallen in a yard off of Grape Place in Midtown.
Jill Burke photo
A hiker revels in 100+ mph winds at Glen Alps on Tuesday, September 4, 2012.
Courtesy Josh Martinez Photography
The Veterans Memorial Flagpole lies on the ground after being knocked over by winds on September 5, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
State house candidate Cean Stevens was helping neighbors in Anchorage's Airport Heights neighborhood Wednesday by taking a chainsaw to fallen trees.
Amanda Coyne photo

As Anchorage residents began to pick up the pieces of Tuesday night's storm, so too were crews and businesses around Alaska's largest city.

Municipal Light & Power crews raced around town, hopping into swaying cherry pickers and repairing fallen lines and transformers.

Matthew Ramick with Utility Technology was following the electrical repair crew. While his team had only been up since daybreak, he said the ML&P crew had been out all night trying to keep up with outages.

Ramick was installing fiberoptic cable for GCI off Reeves Avenue, in an industrial area near Ship Creek, watching the electrical crew snap part of a transmitter into place. A few sparks shot out and the electrical worker hustled down and into the truck, off to the next outage.

Phone lines have been mostly unaffected, Ramick said. But as of this morning he and his crew were on standby.

“We're just here fixing little things,” Ramick said. “We're just sort of waiting until we get a call.”

At the Delaney Park Strip, the city's oldest park, Betty Forbes had been up since dawn clearing knocked over trees. At the Park Strip alone, six trees had fallen during the night. Forbes stood by a city Parks Department truck, covered in wood dust, looking at her Stihl chainsaw, which had just run out of gas.

Forbes heads up the city crew in charge of clearing the fallen trees and the 110-foot tall Sitka spruce flag pole, part of a Veteran's Memorial, at the Park Strip.

Her chainsaw had died cutting the top of the spruce, which was erected at the site in 1999. She and four other workers were cutting the pole into small, manageable chunks. In between moving the flagpole, worker carried parts of a small spruce tree that had been smashed when the pole toppled. Another tree had been sheared down the side.

Forbes didn't know where the flagpole wood would go, but said wood from the other trees will be saved and burned in burn barrels around city ice skating rinks come winter.

Vietnam veteran Jim Vance, 62, stood at the base of the flagpole. He was part of a group of veterans who help raised money to get the pole in the '90s. He was there when the flag was first hoisted.

Vance knows that the Anchorage Parks Foundation is partnering with the Veteran's Committee to raise funds to revitalize the memorial, but he wonders what will happen now.

“I'm sorta curious what they'll do for a memorial,” Vance said. “I was concerned it would topple, but not like this.”

Sara Spudowski had to close her bakery and dessert house, Spenard's Sugarspoon, at 10:30 last night when the power went out. The power didn't come back on until 7 this morning, and with it being cupcake Wednesday, Spudowski figured she might as well embrace the outage.

Among red velvet and pina colada cupcakes are “Brooklyn Blackouts” -- a dark chocolate cupcake, filled with chocolate filling, topped with chocolate frosting -- named for the famous New York City cakes which were inspired by World War II blackouts.

“You just have to embrace this kind of stuff and have fun with it,” she said.

Contact Suzanna Caldwell at suzanna(at)alaskadispatch.com