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Why no state emergency for Skykomish after hundreds stranded? Inslee weighs in

Help finally arrives for Skykomish families affected by massive snowfall (KOMO News)
Help finally arrives for Skykomish families affected by massive snowfall (KOMO News)
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SKYKOMISH, Wash. – The long days of isolation have some in Skykomish asking if the state government could have done more.

Skykomish mayor Henry Sladek is dealing with an emergency situation. His town had been cutoff for three days by heavy snow and dozens of downed trees and power lines on highway 2.

State transportation crews finally got the roadway open, with regular citizens bringing in food and supplies in a convoy.

But some ask where were local and state governments, including Jay Inslee?

State and local governments did not seem to be doing anything, so therefore as neighbors just down the mountain from them – we had to step up and take care of them,” said convoy organizer Garry Vire.

“We did what we were requested by the community of Skykomish,” Inslee added. “And we focused on what the Skykomish community, through [what] their mayor told us, is that they wanted us to open the road.”

But the mayor tells us he only has jurisdiction over the people in town who were faring okay, but as for the rest of the people in the outlying area, it’s not his call to order up the national guard.

“No, I’m not going to tell the mayor of Skykomish how to run his town to start with, and I would point out that...when you live in the mountainous areas you rely on one another,” Inslee said.

The governor did say that he used emergency powers to hire a private helicopter company to blow snow out of the trees and a private tree company to clear the roadway.

On Thursday, first responders braved the backwoods near Skykomish performing welfare checks on families hunkered down after a massive snowfall.

“Today it’s been a deep dive. The snow has been up to waist deep when we’ve gone to knock on each cabin or each house making sure people are okay,” said Sgt. Jason Stanley with the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Stanley was among 20 first responders from the Sheriff’s Office, King County, Search & Rescue, Washington State Patrol, and the Skykomish Fire Department.

“We’ve been able to deliver supplies to folks, medicine, baby formula, got some people out to the hotels,” Sgt. Stanley said.

The City of Skykomish is expected to be without power for another four to seven days, according to Henry Sladek, the mayor of Skykomish.

Sladek said the massive amounts of downed trees have caused a city-wide blackout.

The snow first came Sunday evening, shutting down U.S. 2. By Thursday evening, WSDOT crews were able to reopen the road.

“They just opened the road, so just able to get here today,” said Jonathan Streeter, who works at Stevens Pass and lives in Skykomish.

He said Thursday was the first day he was able to get home.

“Finally people are starting to notice. Because we can’t call 911, we’re running out of supplies, the water isn’t working, it’s becoming a crisis,” Streeter said.

Volunteers have organized caravans of supplies to help those snowed-in near Grotto, Baring, and Skykomish.

Another convoy of volunteers is leaving at 10 a.m. from Gold Bar Family Grocery.

An online GoFundMe effort had raised more than $19,000 as of Thursday evening.

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