Ice storm spurs volunteer cleanup effort in Hubbard
An oft-quoted line from former children's entertainer Fred Rogers reads, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' "
In Hubbard, following the massive damage to trees and homes in the community from the storm on Feb. 12, those helpers could be found at Rivenes Park. Or Dorsey Drive. Or Fifth Street. Or simply online for those who missed Rocky Sherwood and his crew of volunteers who combed the streets in the aftermath of the storm that left more than 600,000 residents in the Willamette Valley without power.
The northern Marion County area of Hubbard, Aurora and Woodburn was among the worst hit in the region, and the combination of the sparse population and widespread damage across dozens of surrounding communities continues to leave many residents without power more than a week after electricity went dark.
As a moderator of the Hubbard Oregon Community Page, Sherwood was able to leverage his role to seek out volunteers to help clean the vast assortment of downed trees and branches that blanketed the community after the ice thawed and the danger of falling limbs was minimized.
"We've got a good community," Sherwood said, noting that he had been laid off and nursing a torn rotator cuff, but didn't feel comfortable doing nothing when so many of his neighbors were in need. "It's so hard to stay at home and lay on the couch when there are people in need, like seniors, you know? It's time to put out the work and take the meds later."
Sherwood has been posting daily updates on the Hubbard community page, seeking volunteers to join him and looking for anyone who is in need of assistance in debris cleanup. One of those neighbors was Sherin Perkins, who lives on Fifth Street just a few blocks away from Rivenes Park, where Sherwood and his crew were cleaning up on Feb. 17.
"I went to City Hall and they said go down to the park and ran into Rocky and his crew. I was looking for somebody to come (remove tree limbs) … and he said, 'Yeah, we'll come down.'"
Perkins' enclosed property is nearly entirely shaded by trees, including a large evergreen that looms directly above her home. She said she was fortunate enough to avoid any lasting damage from the storm, though the night of Feb. 12 was harrowing to sleep through.
"I was talking to our neighbors on that said, and they said they laid up all night listening to this tree come down on our house," Perkins said. "We have a metal roof and it just sounded like a bomb was going off out here."
The only damage to the house that she identified was a broken window. But her yard was covered in downed branches from smaller deciduous trees that didn't weather the storm nearly as well. A car and boat both had multiple tree branches covering them, and with her fiancé unable to use a chainsaw to cut them down, she contacted Sherwood to help.
"She actually approached us as we were cleaning Rivenes yesterday, said that her (fiancé) was in his '80s and couldn't get around and asked if we could come over and give them a hand," Sherwood said.
Following the Labor Day wildfires in 2020, Sherwood teamed with fellow Hubbard resident Emiliano Rodriguez of New Vision Landscaping to volunteer around the community. Sherwood said the two have been working together ever since.
"We built the relationship during the fires," Sherwood said. "Me and Emiliano, it didn't stop then, we wanted to do something nice for the community during the pandemic. So we gave the Hubbard community their first ever holiday parade and a truck event at the park.
"We've been an awesome team. We're like a pair of shoes."
Sherwood is hoping to generate more volunteers to help continue the cleanup around town and to be on hand for future community events or natural disasters, should the need arise. In addition to gathering volunteers, he has also solicited donations from businesses such as Medina Towing, which provided fuel for the chainsaws used in the cleanup. Sherwood said his goal is to foster connections between neighbors and get people off their keyboards and helping each other.
"We're trying to rebuild the Hubbard community to get more people involved," Sherwood said. "Use my sources on the community post to recruit people to come out and make Hubbard great again."
To join Sherwood's cleanup crew, go to the Hubbard Oregon Community Page.
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