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Sunday, December 17, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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On Mercer Island, almost every table was full at the Inn

Seattle Times staff reporter

Cars were spilling out of the parking lot at the Roanoke Inn on a quiet Mercer Island street, the only place on the darkened island that was serving food on Saturday.

A noisy generator punctuated the quiet, while inside the tables were lit with candlelight. Precious electricity was saved for the refrigerator and dishwasher.

"With candles it's a little bit romantic," said manager Tony Ortiz. Almost every table was full at the inn, which has been a Mercer Island landmark since 1914.

Those inside said they're just trying to cope. Aaron Knutsen, who lives on the powerless Sammamish Plateau, said power went out at his house 10 minutes before the end of the Seattle Seahawks game on Thursday so he listened to the rest of the game sitting in his car in his garage.

"We have to talk to each other more," he said, "and sit in front of the fire."

Inside the Roanoke Inn, Denise Mouroux was on a coffee break from the great generator search. She raises and sells parrots and worries what the cold will do to her birds.

She was able to find a generator, but needed to get gasoline to run it. To protect her birds she'd covered them in blankets, and put the babies next to her gas fireplace. "They need warmth," she said. "Today's a crisis."

Helen Taylor runs a wholesale business on Mercer Island and the power outage has basically shut her down. She can't ship, can't access her inventory and can't even make a phone call because everything is tied to her computer.

Karen Graber, a Mercer Island artist, said her family celebrated the first day of Hanukkah in the dark and cold. "We sang songs, had a lot of fun, had tons of candles, and then we went to Dick's."

Dorothy Reeck has owned the Roanoke Inn for more than a decade and knows how important it is to the community. "People need hot coffee. We need to be available," she said. She was able to borrow generators from friends and even had to go to Anacortes to get one.

Virtually all of downtown Mercer Island was dark Saturday. Starbucks. McDonald's. Hollywood Video. The supermarkets were open, but cold and dark.

A QFC was giving away food outside.

John Gillespie, manager of the Mercer Island Albertsons, said his store had only auxiliary power. Fireplace logs and ice were hot items. He said he sold five pallets' worth of logs, about 2,000, in two hours Saturday and by mid-afternoon he was completely out of ice.

Meanwhile, the Argosy Christmas Ship celebration that was scheduled at Luther Burbank Park today has been canceled because fallen trees and power outages have made the walk to the beach dangerous.

Storm debris can be dropped off at these locations on the island:

• Homestead Field, 82nd Avenue Southeast and Southeast 40th Street.

• Island Crest Park, 5500 Island Crest Way.

• South Mercer Playfields, Southeast 78th Street and 84th Avenue Southeast.

• Wildwood Park, 7400 86th Avenue Southeast.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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