Pacific Power employees used snow cats and helicopters to assess damage during the recent snow storm that resulted in the loss of power to more than 42,000 customers from Albany to Roseburg, according to company spokesman Drew Hanson.
“We had 350 employees and contracted crew members from Oregon and Washington,” Hanson said. “At first, when the snow storm struck on Sunday night (Feb. 24), it was wet and heavy and then it warmed up, creating extremely muddy conditions,” Hanson said. “Much of the damage was in remote areas that were difficult to access in deep forested areas and rough terrain.”
Hanson said assessment crews used snow cats and then had to hike into some areas.
“Our crews worked extremely hard and did an amazing job,” Hanson said. “They were very appreciative of the support and understanding they received from our communities.”
Hanson said some affected areas received as much as two feet of snow.
“It was a major event, but it’s what our crews train for,” Hanson said. “We were ready.”
Hanson said that at its peak, there were 31,154 customers out of power in the Roseburg area; 5,000 in the Cottage Grove area; 3,700 in the Lebanon/Sweet Home area; and 1,000 in the Junction City area.
In all, work crews replaced 125 transformers, 38 miles of lines, 260 cross-arms and 155 poles.
Work crews came from Astoria, Portland, Hood River, Pendleton, Bend, Albany, Lincoln City, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Medford, Walla Walla, Washington, and Yreka, California, according to David Lucas, vice president of operations for Pacific Power.
Consumers Power reported more than 2,200 homes in the Harrisburg, Brownsville, Lebanon, Sweet Home and Detroit areas were without power for up to 36 hours.
According to the Consumers Power website, once crews took care of the local outages, they moved on to help southern Oregon utilities that were hit hard.
Some Eugene areas were expected to be without power for up to two weeks.
Mid-valley residents are encouraged to have a home emergency kit that includes drinking water, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, a manual can opener and blankets.
Linn County Roadmaster Darrin Lane said his crews stayed on top of the weather event with snow plowing and spreading sand and deicer at key spots throughout the county.
“We’re in the clean-up phase now,” Lane said. “We’ve picked up a lot of debris and sand as well. We’re still doing some snow plowing at the higher elevations.”
Lane said Quartzville Road near Green Peter Reservoir was cleared of dozens of downed trees and limbs last week.
“That’s and area we’re still working on,” Lane said. “There’s still more to do.”
Lane said the county ran low on deicer twice, but wet weather that followed the snow, prevented crews from applying deicer at times.
“That probably kept us from running out,” Lane said. “But, we have 14,000 gallons of storage in Lebanon and that has worked very well.”
Lane said he likes to order at least 6,000 gallons of deicer at a time to enjoy a price break.
Lane said his team is researching other storage options, including a tanker trailer.
“I was really impressed with how people responded to the adverse weather,” Lane said. “There were fewer crashes that in other years and I was happy to see that.”
Parks Director Brian Carroll told Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, John Lindsey and Will Tucker last week that there are a number of trees and limbs down inside the parks.
Carroll said parks staff will have a busy spring cleaning up debris.
He added that although there was deep snow at Clear Lake Resort, there appeared to be no damage to buildings.