Snow and ice sink dozens of boats at Sellwood Marina
In what the Weather Bureau described as the most severe icing event in Portland in half a century, the freezing storm over Valentine's weekend stopped virtually all traffic, closed practically everything (including TriMet bus and MAX service), and brought a well-supported solid awning down over dozens of Portland Rowing Club boat slips in the marina just south of the Sellwood Bridge.
The awnings are described as having been made of sheet metal and wood. This catastrophic collapse at Sellwood was prominent in the local media coverage of the storm that day.
It happened, reportedly, at around 3:30 a.m. on the subfreezing morning of Saturday, February 13 – the day before Valentine's Day. Several inches of mixed snow and sleet had fallen all night, and the weight of it all caused the collapse of that awning onto between forty and fifty boats in the slips – sinking most of them, according to a Multnomah County Sheriff Deputy at the scene.
In addition, five floating houses were also described as listing and taking on water because of the extra weight on their roofs. Joining the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department in responding, the Portland Fire Bureau and the Coast Guard arrived to evaluate the situation and to attempt to mitigate it. In addition, utility companies turned out to inspect, since the floating homes had electricity, natural gas, and other utilities that could have posed additional hazards.
There was special concern because of gasoline leaking from some of the sunken boats; gas fumes were described as settling over the water and causing a fire risk. But the quick response quickly ended that danger.The boats, associated with the Portland Rowing Club, were described as mostly insured; but cleanup and removal of the snow and ice took hard work and a lot of time – and although the overnight 22-degree temperature had risen to 29 by that afternoon, it stayed below 32 for another thirty-six hours in Inner Southeast, before the effects of the historic storm began to fade.And, the adjacent Waverly Marina also did not escape damage; a sturdy and recently upgraded solid awning there withstood the ice until practically the end of the weather event – Monday morning, February 15 – when the final overnight ice storm proved to be too much, and that awning collapsed on a number of the boats that it had been protecting. The day before, the collapse of another boat awning near Scappose on the Columbia River northwest of Portland had damaged a number of watercraft there.At its peak, on February 15, the number of Oregon customers without power reached an unprecedented third of a million, after that final overnight ice storm brought down many more limbs and trees, and caused damage across much of the Portland Metro. Power restoration for some took more than a week.See other stories, and many more pictures, of this unusual winter storm elsewhere in this issue of THE BEE!
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