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Storm smacks down power

By Sue Ryan

and RaeLynn Ricarte

News staff writers

December 16, 2006

Gale-force winds tore through Hood River County on Thursday night, toppling trees and leaving 4,500 customers of Pacific Power without electricity.

On Friday morning, the company announced that it had outages at the residences or businesses of 78,000 customers throughout the Northwest – and might not be able to turn on the lights until late Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

Hood River Electric Co-op had scattered outages but was able to keep most of its power on-line by rerouting it from a damaged main line in Odell through Parkdale. The agency asked customers to conserve electricity and was able to prevent a total blackout.

US Cellular lost a cell tower some time in the night that cut off all local service – although the extent of the damage was not known as of press time on Friday.

Employees and employers arrived at work in downtown Hood River and the west side of town on the morning of Dec. 15 to find no lights or access to computers and/or telephones. Within a few minutes after 8 a.m., restaurants in the Heights and coffee shops in lighted areas filled to capacity with people seeking a warm shelter and a hot cup of coffee while they waited for power to be restored.

Providence Hood River Hospital managed patient care with no problems during the outage by running part of its operation on generator power, as did the emergency dispatch center.

Several residents reported that healthy trees fell near their homes and cars, but no damages were registered with the Hood River City Police or Hood River County Sheriff's Office as of Friday morning. Downed power lines and trees temporarily closed Country Club Road, Indian Creek Road, Barrett Drive and Frankton Road because of safety concerns. Hood River School District canceled school, although Cascade Locks remained open.

Rescue teams, who had spent days searching for three missing climbers, holed up at Cloud Cap Inn, the base camp, on Friday. Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler decided not to send them out on the slopes until the weather stabilized. The north face of Mount Hood had been hit with winds during the night that reached almost 100 miles per hour in the higher elevations and heavy snowfall.

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