Tropical storm foils plans for events in Hillsdale, Multnomah

by: CONNECTION PHOTO: DREW DAKESSIAN - The destruction of typhoon Pabuk in Southwest Portland included a fallen tree near Rieke Elementary School.The last weekend in September was supposed to be a busy one in Southwest Portland with several events scheduled to take place in Hillsdale and Multnomah. But the weather had other plans.

While Sept. 29, 2012, was a mild day in Portland, reaching a high temperature of 75 and staying dry with zero inches of precipitation, Sept. 29 of this year was a different story entirely, with a maximum wind speed of 23 mph and 1.21 inches of precipitation — a new record.

The culprit was a meteorological phenomenon known as typhoon Pabuk, a tropical storm that had reached its peak earlier that week off the coast of Japan. The moisture and wind it sent to the Pacific Northwest resulted in the cancellation of greatly anticipated functions throughout Portland and right here in Southwest.

Paella dinner postponed

The third annual Hillsdale Paella Dinner, a gathering to benefit Hillsdale Main Street, was supposed to take place Sept. 28. It was to be the first time the event would be held not in the Hillsdale town center, on Southwest Capitol Highway, but instead in the parking lot of the Fanno Creek Medical Clinic on Southwest Vermont Street, and with a new lead chef, Greg Schwab, of nearby restaurant Seasons & Regions.

“It was a really big deal, to be honest,” said Megan Braunsten, until recently the executive director of Hillsdale Main Street. “Our rental company, who had events throughout the entire region that weekend, they called and cancelled all of their events.”

Braunsten said this seemed like an appropriate response.

“It was complete typhoon weather," she said. "I was soaked to the bone. It was sideways rain; the entire parking lot was just covered in trees and small branches … there was just debris everywhere, and nobody showed up.”

Farmers market rained out

From the first Sunday in May through the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market is supposed to run weekly in the Rieke Elementary-Wilson High School parking lot. However, extreme weather put a damper on these plans in September — twice.

Sept. 22 was a windy day — so windy, in fact, said Market Manager Eamon Molloy, that a portable toilet at the market shifted 3 to 4 inches. With that in mind, Molloy made the decision to close the farmers market an hour early.

On Sept. 29, the bad weather — and bad luck — continued. After monitoring the forecast for days and conferring with Hillsdale Business Association President Mike Roach, Molloy made the call that he would have to cancel the farmers market altogether.

“We don't take the decision to cancel a market session lightly,” he wrote in “The Grapevine,” the market email newsletter. “In the nearly 10 years (> 330 market sessions) of managing the Hillsdale Farmers' Market, I have cancelled four sessions and closed three sessions early because of weather conditions. This month is the first time I had to make this decision two weeks in a row.”

Molloy told The Connection that although he was disappointed at having to cancel, for reasons of safety and feasibility, “I had no hesitation in closing."

“We in Hillsdale are 500 feet; it’s a little windier than down in the valley floor, so we have to take those things into account," he said.

He added that the storm gave impetus for reconsidering the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market weather-planning paradigm.

“To close … early in November … is more normal, when these kind of storms come in,” Molloy said. “‘Weather willing’ is a phrase I (usually) start using in October, and it looks like I’ll have to start using that in September.”

Sunday Parkways called off

Also planned for Sept. 29 was Southwest Portland Sunday Parkways, the fifth and final event in a series organized by the Portland Bureau of Transportation to open the city’s streets to so-called active transportation “while fostering civic pride, stimulating economic development and (representing) the community, business and government investments in Portland's vitality, livability and diversity.”

It was supposed to take place throughout the Multnomah neighborhood area.

“This is the first Sunday Parkways that’s ever been canceled since it started in 2008. Rain is not a problem, but this was a storm,” said Diane Dulken of PBOT media relations.

Though Dulken said a desire to keep Southwest Portlanders safe was the No. 1 reason PBOT opted to cancel Southwest Portland Sunday Parkways, there were other concerns as well.

“We want this to be — and it has been — a fantastic event for community partners and vendors, and vendors need customers,” she said. “We were looking at them and their needs as well.

"These are small, local businesses and we want to showcase them and help them succeed. … They would have had all the cost without the potential revenue.”

The calm after the storm

The Hillsdale Paella Dinner has been rescheduled for the evening of Nov. 9 at the Multnomah Arts Center. The Hillsdale Farmers’ Market is scheduled to continue to run weekly — weather permitting — through Thanksgiving.

And when asked if the threat of repeated inclement weather might prompt PBOT to schedule Southwest Portland Sunday Parkways for an earlier month next time around, Dulken demurred.

“We’ve had rainy Sunday Parkways” in the past, she said, “and it hasn’t dampened the spirit."

Drew Dakessian can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 108.

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