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News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 83. January 12, 2007
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Kenneth R. Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds
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The treacherous wind storm of December 14 and subsequent power outages won't soon be forgotten. This came after record rainfall and a major snow storm in November, and was followed by this week's snowfall and freezing temperatures. What a way to end one year and start the next!

The impact of the December storm at Seattle parks and facilities was severe in places and far-reaching. I am very proud of the professional and caring way our staff at all levels responded to these extreme circumstances.

A summary of storm damage and our response follows, accompanied by dramatic photos.

Overall, the windstorm resulted in an estimated $400,000 in damages. Fallen trees caused estimated $20,000 damage just to the Lincoln Park play area, for instance. We are still cleaning up tree and plant debris. Flooding occurred in several parks, including the Japanese Garden, and buildings, particularly Medgar Evers Pool.

In keeping with the city's emergency preparedness plan, we opened emergency shelters at four community centers from Dec. 15-19 for people without power: Bitter Lake, Delridge, Southwest, and Rainier. As many as 175,000 City Light customers had lost power soon after the storm hit.

Delridge Community Center never lost power; however, the gym floor was partially covered with water from heavy rains. At Bitter Lake Community Center and other shelters, community members volunteered to help at the shelter and donated food, blankets, and books. Rainier Community Center stayed open an extra day (until Dec. 20) after the other community center shelters were closed.

Trees Down
Madison entrance to the Arboretum
Trees Down
Green Lake
Trees Down
Garfield Playfield
Medgar Evers Pool Flooding

We estimate that more than 600 trees fell in over 130 parks as a result of the wind storm, including 100 on our golf courses. These were all trees in developed park areas or on park-owned boulevards. Not included in this count were the many downed trees in park natural areas and greenbelts. We expect the final count to be higher.

The areas hardest hit were the southwest, southeast and north central areas of the city. Woodland, Lincoln, and Seward parks and the Washington Park Arboretum had the most tree failures. Trees of 58 different species fell, more maples than any other species. In addition, Parks-owned trees fell onto 28 different private properties, some causing damage and some not. And Park trees fell on 15 power lines.

Our crews continued to work through early January to clean up plant and tree debris in our parks.

If you're interested in making a tree donation to help us replace these valuable resources, you can do so through the Seattle Parks Foundation's Tree Program. Please visit

Other damage to parks and park facilities occurred from flooding from the heavy rain that preceded the wind storm. One of the most severe incidents occurred at Medgar Evers Pool in the Central Area.

As the rain poured down, the low entrance area in front of the pool building filled up with more than three feet of water in just 10 minutes. Water seeped through cracks in the doors. Pool staff worked diligently to prevent quickly rising flood waters from entering the pool, and as a precaution, evacuated the pool patrons through the emergency exit on the roof.

Staff braved cold, muddy water to unclog outside drains and re-direct water that was entering the building into one available drain. They hauled sandbags from the basement and used every available item to block the flow of water through the front doors and windows. After more than three hours, they cleared most of the water from the lobby and locker room floors. Parks plumbers arrived with a pump to remove water that had collected in front of the building.

The following morning, pool staff began the daunting task of cleaning the mud and remaining water from the building. The team did an outstanding job, allowing the pool to re-open at noon on Friday. Customers were pleasantly surprised to find the pool open on a day when most businesses in the area were closed.

Happy New Year to you all!

I'll be in touch soon.

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