Gorge residents driving from Portland at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday reported rain, wind, hail and thunder and lightning so heavy that they needed to leave the freeway to escape the deluge.
The Odell area did not escape the damage from the storm, as downed trees and poles caused two outages, on Stadelman Drive and Mason Road.
One of those power losses knocked out power to the Stadelman, Diamond and Duckwall fruit packing houses, and to half the operations at Cardinal IG, a window manufacturer located a half-mile from the Stadelman location.
“We had a huge thunder cell come through. The wind was something like I have not seen for a very long time,” said Chief Greg Borton of Wy’East Fire District. His volunteers responded to both outages, along with crews from Hood River Electrical Co-op.
“It was all hands on deck,” said Clinton Curtis of Hood River Electric. All seven of the co-op’s line-crew members, along with Curtis and fellow supervisor Chris Walker, responded.
At Mason Drive, a four-foot-diameter oak tree fell across the road and knocked out two poles and pulled down lines a quarter-mile north of Van Horn Drive, where the Mt. Hood Railroad tracks cross Mason. A Hood River County Public Works crew cut up and removed the tree, which is on the Kennedy orchard property.
Power was restored on Mason Road by 6 a.m. Thursday, with about 50 customers affected.
The packing houses were up and running by 12:45 a.m.
David Garcia, CEO of Diamond, said packing was not in operation at the time and refrigeration was unaffected.
“The only problem was a brief blip in our computer system, but we have that on backup, so we were okay,” Garcia said.
Cardinal IG plant manager Dave Windsor said Thursday morning that the power was still out to the north side of the plant and he hoped to have it restored by Thursday afternoon. By that time, two-and-a-half shift on the north side had been shut down.
“Safety first,” Windsor said. “With a breaker that size, you don’t just reset it, because serious injury can occur. We called in a certified electrician to inspect it and make sure it was safe to proceed.”
The south half of Cardinal was unaffected, as it is supplied by a different transformer. Windsor said some personnel were shifted to other duties, and others sent home.
“It was not as serious an impact on our operations as it could have been,” Windsor said.