How 'bout a hot meal?
A couple of traffic flaggers working in west Woodburn Sunday, Feb. 21, described area folks as the nicest they have ever seen while at work.
The flaggers hailed from Seattle and work up and down the I-5 corridor. On Sunday morning they were funneling traffic while linemen worked to restore services knocked out by recent winter storms, keeping the crews safe, when rural-Woodburn resident Kelly Long approached them to see if they would like breakfast.
They were taken aback.
"They told me that the only thing they usually get while working is people flipping them off," Long related.
The flaggers and dozens of other out-of-state utility crew workers enjoyed hot meals that morning after roughly 20 volunteers turned out at 6:30 a.m. on the sheltered premises of Dylan and Stephanie Wells, firing up propane cookers to prepare hash browns, eggs, sausages, coffee and juice.
Long, who is part owner and vice president of operations at Long Bros. Building Supply, and her friend Connie Bellman had visited the crews working in that part of town near the outlet mall. As a gesture of appreciation, the women brought crew members granola bars.
They soon discovered that the workers were from far-flung places — North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas — working for Infinity Communications Group, and were called to the region to help swamped local crews that had been working around the clock to restore communication and power infrastructure.
When the idea of putting a hot meal together surfaced, Long put the word out on social media and volunteers went with it.
Bauman Farms contributed sausages and eggs. Laura Dix added fixings for a sack lunch — bread, peanut butter and jelly, carrots, bananas, cookies and chips — and the Wellses provided a location where rain would not hamper the process. Others furnished the propane cookers, plates, various accessories and their time.
The crews were appreciative.
"All were very grateful, and appreciative, as they hadn't slept properly or had a meal that wasn't in a bag for several days," said Nichole Hetland, one of the volunteers.
One told Long that it was the first home-cooked meal his crew had had in a week.
A horde of crew members poured in at around 8:15 a.m., and most ate quickly or on the go.
"They were just the nicest, hard-working group." Long said. "A lot of them would just get their plate and off they go. There was just so much to do."
The greater Woodburn area was among the hardest hit and affected by the storms. Some crews had been working up to 18-hour shifts to repair services. Long, who was still without power at her home that day, and Bellman just wanted to show their appreciation to those tasked with getting everything repaired, as were the others who chipped in.
"We have a community that wants to give, and it's what we are supposed to be doing for each other," Long said. "I still have a roof over my head. A lot of people lost theirs to (last summer's) wildfires ... I'm not out there working in the cold like these (linemen). This is the least we can do."
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