'Historic' storm plows through Wilsonville over the weekend
This story was updated from its original version
Trees careening into the middle of roadways or onto private property. Residents huddling in front of the fire waiting days for power to be restored. And even unusually long lines at fast food restaurants.
These were some of the effects of a series of storms taking place over the weekend that PGE representative Elizabeth Lattanner said was historic and unprecedented in the last 40 years.
"It looks a bit like a tornado has come through Charbonneau with all of the trees and the limbs down," Charbonneau resident and Wilsonville City Councilor Joann Linville said.
"It was about 10 o'clock on Friday, you could hear 'Crack, crack, crack, boom' all around you," Wilsonville resident Donna Atkinson said.
On Monday morning, PGE reported that there were 2,071 power outages in Wilsonville's 97070 zip code.
PGE also said there were 15 transmission lines out, 206 miles of transmission to be repaired, 4,408 wires down and 2,500 people working to restore power in Clackamas County. Other pieces of equipment like substations and feeders have also been damaged.
"All the steps from the generating plant to how electricity gets to folks' houses, there have been impacts every step of the way," Lattanner said.
While other parts of the city also experienced outages, the entire Charbonneau community, which includes a high percentage of elderly residents, was without power. Linville added that the entrances to both the Charbonneau community at French Prairie Drive and to Charbonneau Country Club were at one point blocked off.
In response, city public works staff spent evenings clearing trees and other debris while members of the community's certified emergency response team conducted welfare checks to make sure residents were doing OK. Linville also said residents with access to gas heat invited others who didn't to stay over and made hot meals for their neighbors. The city of Wilsonville is buying phone chargers for people in the community to use as well.
"I want to thank our entire community in Charbonneau, our emergency response people, our Charbonneau Country Club leadership for keeping people notified and just neighbors who have made an effort to make sure their vulnerable neighbors are safe and taken care of," Linville said.
Charbonneau resident Jake McMichael said his house was around 53 degrees for days before he and his wife went to stay at a friend's house in King City Sunday.
"We couldn't take it any longer," McMichael said.
Linville, meanwhile, said her cat hasn't veered further than a few feet away from the fireplace much in days.
Charbonneau Country Club also wrote in a release that Springridge at Charbonneau, a retirement community, was considering evacuating memory care and hospice care residents to Newberg. The community was almost out of diesel fuel but the city was sending 100 gallons to them, the release added.
Atkinson, who lives near the Honda dealership on the eastside of town, said she has power but that there were many downed limbs near her house. A group of neighbors banded together to remove downed trees and limbs from her street.
"It's nice when neighbors help neighbors," Atkinson said.
The unrelenting nature of the storm made response especially challenging and historic, Lattanner added.
PGE employees made repairs and restored power one day only to see more damage and outages the next. Lattanner said 280,000 customers throughout the utility's coverage (which includes Marion, Washington, Polk and other counties) were without power Monday and that it had restored power to over 150,000 customers since the storm struck.
"In times of ice, snow and wind, we see buildup on tree branches and ice weighing them down and with extensive wind a lot of those tree branches have come down on power lines and impacted transmission lines and caused damage on substations and feeders," she said.
She added: "The damage is extensive and we're asking customers for our patience and recognize how frustrating and challenging this time is."
PGE is also planning to double its crew size by bringing in assistance from Nevada and Montana.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures were projected to warm Monday. However, Lattanner said that melting can sometimes make branches heavier and thus more likely to fall.
She also asked customers to continue to avoid downed power lines and to prepare to go without electricity for the next few days.
"Overall, no matter the conditions, we'll be doing everything in our power to get customers' power safely restored as soon as possible," Lattanner said.
The PGE representative said they're encouraging customers to visit 211info.org online or call 211 for access to resources like shelter, transportation or other supports.
For more information on outages, visit portlandgeneral.com/outages.
The city of Wilsonville declared a state of emergency Sunday to be able to respond more effectively to the storm.
The city wrote in a press release that the decision allows the city to coordinate with other agencies and deploy resources more nimbly. The public works staff was working "around the clock to clear roadways, remove debris and assess damage," the city wrote.
Until staff could remove debris from them, the city advised people to avoid parks and other green spaces. As of Monday, there had been no major, life-threatening incidents related to the storm according to Wilsonville Police Chief Robert Wurpes.
On Friday Feb. 12, the local government closed the "Boeckman Dip" — a section of Boeckman Road between Canyon Creek Road and Sherman Drive — until further notice and City Communications and Marketing Manager Bill Evans said the roadway was still closed on Monday but that it could open again soon.
Public Works Operations Manager Martin Montalvo said the city had escaped major headaches from the early snowfall Thursday and Friday of last week.
"We put our winter weather response in action yesterday and have 24-hour crews working," Montalvo said Friday afternoon, Feb. 12. "We did preventative deicing before the event, and put sand in known hot spots — mostly today, not as much yesterday."
Friday night, however, Evans said the local government had responded to at least 50 calls of residents reporting downed trees.
"Our crews were responding to those calls and anything they were finding in roadways as they were down," he said.
Evans said the city set up a chipping station at Murase Plaza so as to more easily put debris in bins that go to Republic Services. This station is not available to the public but Evans said the city and Republic Services are planning to add dropoff spots for residents to drop off debris at some point.
Wilsonville transit service, South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART), was closed over the weekend but reopened Monday. People in need of emergency transportation can use the agency's Dial-a-Ride service by calling 503-682-7790.
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