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Postcard From Columbia City

Bryan Buckalew

We've heard plenty from the neighborhoods north of Seattle during this week's snowstorm. But what about south of Seattle? KUOW's Bryan Buckalew walked the streets of Columbia City Thursday and has this postcard.


During snowstorms past, link light rail has been the star of the show, getting people to and from Columbia City when the buses couldn't. Not this year. Grizelda Sarria stood on the side of MLK Way South. She was on her way to work downtown. It had taken her two hours to travel eight blocks.

Sarria: "So we were on the train for about an hour. And then we all got told, 'OK, we're ready to go.' Then they lost electrical power service, and then we got kicked out. So now we're waiting for alternative transportation. Which, in this case, is my husband with the kids coming to pick me up. Which is what we were trying to avoid: getting on the roads."

The problem: ice kept building up on the overhead electrical lines that run the train. So snow is no problem, but freezing rain is a different story. Across the street, Rubin Cruz was sweeping snow off his S–10 with a broom.

Bryan Buckalew: "What are you doing?"

Cruz: "You know, just taking the ice off my truck, that's all. Because I'm really bored in the house. I want to do something, you know?"

Buckalew: "You're doing it because you're bored?"

Cruz: "Yeah."

Cruz says he works on a concrete crew, but they haven't worked all week. So, he watches TV. He eats hot peppers to warm up. Two students passed by on their way down to Lake Washington. One was from Libya and said it's his first time seeing snow.

In front of a supported housing building, social worker Karla Manus scraped snow off the sidewalk. She says she braved the roads because she'd stayed home the day before. I asked why Seattleites have such a hard time driving in the snow.

Manus: "There are a lot of people here that didn't grow up in the snow, who've never really driven in the snow. They think that four–wheel drive is magic. It is not. It doesn't defy gravity or inertia. You've just gotta be careful, no matter what you're driving."

On the way out of Columbia City, I passed Leo Rench. He and his mom were on their way to go sledding. I asked Leo what his sled looks like.

Rench: "Well, it's pretty shiny."

Buckalew: "How fast does it go?"

Rench: "Fifteen to 10 miles — 10 to 15 miles per hour."

And that reminded his mom they needed to turn back to get his bike helmet. Leo groaned. But even sledding with a helmet is better than a day at school.

For KUOW News, I'm Bryan Buckalew.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW