'His name was Humboldt.' Beloved white oak toppled by storm
Neighborhoods in Clackamas County were a mess of tangled and toppled trees, downed wires and fallen power poles days after a strong ice storm struck. A drive through Gladstone showed how the severity of the storm completely changed the landscape.
"This was everybody's beloved tree," said Bryce Colson, a homeowner in Gladstone. "We'd have people come stumble up just to admire it."
Colson and his husband bought their home in Gladstone a few years ago. One of their favorite parts was the beautiful, towering nearly 850-year-old white oak in the front yard.
However, in the middle of the night Feb. 12, he said the ice storm took its toll on this tree.
"His name was Humboldt. It came crashing down," he said. "It was so loud you would not believe it."
The neighborhood's beloved Humboldt split in all directions.
"No one expected this to happen — we were in shock," Colson said. "Sure, there's all the dead branches around town — it's tree city around here — but nobody expected Humboldt to go."
The great white oak took out a car and a neighboring roof.
"Our poor neighbor's house was smashed. We immediately called 911 as we screamed: 'Are you OK? Are you OK?' Their son came out and said 'We're healthy. We're well!'" Colson recalled.
Like tens of thousands of people in Clackamas County, Colson and his husband have been without power, heat and hot water for days. Even still, people in Gladstone want to help. As well-known local business owners, regulars who frequent their holistic wellness shop, Bound To Happen, have been reaching out.
"We've been getting Facebook messages and emails from all of you guys — thank you so much," Colson said. "This has been a rough time for us, but we're getting through it and it's really an honor to be a part of your community."
A couple thousand pounds of wood are stacked in Colson's yard. It took two days and cranes to remove and stack it all.
"It was quite the feat of engineering to watch these guys take it down," he said.
Even after days of stress, in his unwavering good spirit, Colson cracked a joke, saying they changed up the design at their house and are "going with the beaver dam collection" instead.
Another large tree was uprooted by the winter weather in Gladstone, plus anther tree across the street from Colson's home also fell over the weekend and landed in the street. Luckily, no one was hurt.
With the ice melted, the repair process begins now, but Colson said he sees a blessing in everything.
"I love woodwork and furniture, and I would hate to see this go to firewood," he said. "(Humboldt) meant so much to so many people — strangers we didn't know loved this tree on their drive to work every day and I want him to go on in as many ways as possible so they can have a piece of Humboldt to remember."
He also intends to turn the remaining stump into a shrine to honor Humboldt's centuries of life.
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