Heavy wet snow storms dumped on the Umpqua Valley this past week, not only making travel extremely difficult, but taking down power lines by fallen trees, limbs and breaking power poles throughout the Umpqua Valley and other parts of Oregon. Even though we weren’t in the park, we were very connected to what was going on. Communication in the area was hampered by unreliable cell connections. Calls and text were spotty and difficult going out. Receiving calls and texts was better. Because we weren’t in the Park, Thom was able to gather information from various sources and then get it out on Rained Out, a text based alert system, to update members on the progress for return of power and where resources, like fuel or propane, became available.
A brief summary:
Power at Timber Valley went out about 7:40 pm Sunday, Feb 24, when the power pole supplying the Park went down. At its peak over 45,000 customers in and beyond the Roseburg area were without power. It was unknown how long it would take for power to return. On top of that add sustained below freezing temperatures. This was a true emergency such that the governor eventually declared it a disaster area. The biggest struggle was keeping warm. Generators need gas and furnaces need propane. Without electricity, gas stations can’t pump gas and propane can’t be pumped into a tank.
Power returned to the Park about 11:30 pm Thursday night, Feb 28. Who could imagine it would be over 4 days without electricity. But it could be worse: current news reports state that some parts of the Umpqua Valley may not have power for 1 to 3 weeks due to the amount of devastation. Some members of Timber Valley managed to remain in the Park for the entire time, but many needed to leave seeking heat and other needed services. Some units sustained damage from trees and tree branches and others from collapsed awnings that couldn’t hold the weight of so much wet snow. Randy and some hardy volunteers trudged through deep snow and worked in the cold wet elements removing trees, branches, and clearing streets.
Not only was this a time for self reliance, it was a time of neighbor helping neighbor, of this community pulling together to help one another in every way possible.
Clean up continues and members are gradually returning and assessing their situations. There is much to share of experiences, lessons learned and conversations to be held on how members and the Park can be better prepared to face these kinds of emergency situations in the future.