Storm recovery keeps county crews busy, snow on the way

PACIFIC Power and Light crews replaced this power pole after a falling tree damaged it and blocked Country Club Road Thursday morning. Hood River County Public Works closed the road for most of the morning between Riordan Hill Road and Barrett Drive.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
PACIFIC Power and Light crews replaced this power pole after a falling tree damaged it and blocked Country Club Road Thursday morning. Hood River County Public Works closed the road for most of the morning between Riordan Hill Road and Barrett Drive.



The bout of high winds and rain that felled trees and bogged down Hood River at the outset of this week has petered out.

However, storm hazards may rear again this weekend — the National Weather Service station in Portland on Thursday issued a winter storm watch for Hood River County, which takes effect Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.

According to the alert, the upper valley will pick up a light to medium amount of snow Friday afternoon and evening. After a quick respite overnight and early Saturday, forecasters expect heavier snow to fall Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.

The station estimated three to eight inches of snow during the first wave, then as much as a foot on Saturday.

Meanwhile, county crews are still helping the region recover from the week’s first storm. The Monday onslaught knocked down trees across the county, swamped streets, flooded the Hood River, and filled two sewage plants to capacity.

Mikel Diwan, Hood River County Public Works Director, said crews were still doing cleanup work Friday morning. Though the brunt of the storm has passed, tree debris and dammed culverts have still kept workers busy.

“We’re short on crews, and we appreciate the community for understanding,” Diwan said.

When the worst of the storm hit Monday, the top priority for the department was clearing downed trees, as well as trees that were starting to teeter under high winds. This ate up a great deal of time, Diwan said, considering the county employs eight members on its road crew, and a hefty downed tree requires four workers: cutters, haulers and flaggers.

Trees crashed down on several homes, including the Indian Creek Apartment Complex in the Heights, a house on Highway 35 near the former Hanel Mill in Odell, and a home in the Mt. Hood area.

County Emergency Manager Barb Ayers said the storm turned out less potent than forecasted, despite the damage it caused.

“This turned out to be a fairly normal winter storm, a little worrisome for a while with the forecast but never an extreme situation,” Ayers said. “Mother Nature went easier on us than some Clackamas, Portland and coastal communities. And here in Hood River, thankfully, we are used to weather.”

Some communities lost power due to fallen trees, including Country Club Road and East Side Road. Cascade Locks, which runs on a city-managed electric system, also spent the week dealing with “spotty” power outages.

The worst of the week’s storm has now passed, but with potential snow on the horizon for the Parkdale and Mt. Hood communities, county officials are encouraging residents and visitors to drive carefully, or avoid outright, local roadways if conditions worsen.

Diwan urged drivers to take precautions given the forecasted wet conditions. If conditions deteriorate to the level we saw earlier this week, he said, it’s wiser to “stay off them.”



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