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More than a week after freezing rain devastated Willamette Valley power grid, many residents continue to wait for electricity

While the large majority of Portland General Electric PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Work crews are lofted up to restore power along Highway 99E between Gervais and Brooks on Friday morning. Thousands of PGE customers remain without power a week after ice storms knocked out electricity to more than half a million people in the Willamette Valley.customers who lost power in last week's historic ice storm have since regained electricity, PGE stated Saturday morning that more than 52,000 residents remain without power.

Among those include 15,491 residents in Marion County, about 20 percent of whom hail from the Woodburn and Aurora area codes and have been disconnected from eletrical services more than a week since freezing rain toppled trees and power lines on Feb. 12.

"We know how frustrating this is, as we've discovered even more challenges to getting our repair and restoration work done along the way, Larry Bekkedahl, Vice President Grid Architecture Integration and System Operations, said. "Our 350 crews and the staff who support them will not stop working night and day until we have the power back on for every single customer."

The series of historic and devastating storms that hit the Willamette Valley brought three waves of snow, ice and wind and resulted in catastrophic damage to PGE's system. The first wave included high winds that weakened trees and other vegetation. The second and third waves brought the most destructive freezing rain event in 40 years, coating wires with an inch or more of ice ,which added 1,000 pounds of extra weight to each span of wire, pole to pole.

Further, PGE was unable to safely send crews to the hardest hit areas for the first 48 hours due to extremely dangerous conditions as a result of falling trees and limbs.

Approximately 1,607 residents in Woodburn and 1,522 residents in Aurora continue to wait on a source of electricity as PGE triages how best to restore service to its remaining customers in both larger municipalities and rural, remote areas in outlying, unincorporated counties.

Other nearby outages include customers from Hubbard (340), St. Paul (306), Gervais (209) and Mount Angel (156) area codes.

The Hubbard City Council held an emergency session on Feb. 17 to declare an emergency in order to get additional resources from the state to help cover expenses related to storm cleanup and aftermath.

Hubbard Mayor Charles Rostocil reached out to community message boards on Friday to update residents of the city's state of affairs.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - In addition to prolonged electrical outages for PGE customers, residents in northern Marion County are contending with downed branches or entire trees that have destroyed property or rest in precarious positions that could endanger others."Power is slowly coming back online," Rostocil noted. "In a regional conference call last evening the impact of this storm was communicated and the monumental impact it had on our infrastructure. Hubbard, Woodburn, and Aurora took the brunt of this ice storm. With this said, I am seeing lights coming on around town, and with luck we will continue to see more lights coming on over the next few days. PGE is working hard to restore power."

Rostocil stated the city had reached an agreement with Republic Services for debris collection at the city's main parks for removal of downed tree limbs and trunks. Woodburn and Gervais had made similar dump stations available for residents in need of disposing detritus from the storm.

Bekkedahl and PGE have been providing daily updates on the company's progress in clearing downed lines and complications that have arisen as hundreds of crews gradually work to clear the power grid that has been decimated by falling debris, some of which has occured days after initial repairs.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - A pair of trees drape over power lines on Mineral Springs Road Northeast coming into downtown Hubbard on Friday morning. Many power lines were down or had trees leaning against them around the area a week after the storm as work crews attempt to address the thousands of outages across the region."One example of this comes from work to restore power to customers in Clackamas and Marion counties," Bekkedahl said. "As we neared completion of restoring transmission lines to the areas reaching from Colton to North Marion to Salem to Oregon City, additional falling trees and limbs into those lines meant that the restoration efforts were impacted delaying restoration to 25 associated substations."

Locally, municipalities have provided information and aid to residents in need of assistance, while school districts throughout the region were closed for the week of Feb. 15-19.

In the district's regular newsletter, Woodburn School District Acting Superintendent Juan Larios noted that district nutrition services employees continued to provide grab-and-go snacks and meals throughout the week and that the district would resume regularly scheduled activities on Monday.

"It's important that we connect with as many students as possible," Larios stated. "We care greatly about our students, families and staff, and will continue to work to support them all."

Larios stated that the district had yet to determine how it will address the loss of four instructional days, but would provide details about that information as soon as it is available.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn School District stated it will resume classes Monday, while the North Marion School District was scheduled to update residents on Sunday evening on the potential of class resuming after its campus remained without power Friday afternoon.The North Marion School District posted via Facebook that the district was without poer on campus and would send out an update no later than Sunday afternoon letting families know the status of school operations for Monday.

PGE has set up a website at https://portlandgeneral.com/storminfo to provide regular details regarding the effort to restore power and a map of the region, color-coded to show how long residents will likely be without power.

As of Saturday morning, the map showed Woodburn and some Hubbard and Gervais residents would remain without power for up to four days, while outlying communities could be without power for an additional eight days.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - According to the PGE website, many customers could be without power for up to an additional eight days, meaning some residents would be without power for two weeks following the devastating ice storm on Feb. 12.

Disconnected

As of Saturday morning, more than 52,000 PGE customers remained without power one week following the Feb. 12 ice storm. PGE has noted customers could remain without power for an additional four to eight days as crews work to clear downed lines.

Affected customers

1,607 customers in 97071 area code (Woodburn)

1,522 customers in 97002 area code (Aurora)

340 customers in 97302 area code (Hubbard)

306 customers in 97137 area code (St. Paul)

209 customers in 97026 (Gervais)

156 customers in 97362 (Mount Angel)


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