They say light shines brightest in the darkness. That was certainly true for many in Canby over the past few days, as a devastating ice storm knocked out power to the entire city — as well as an estimated 100,000 residents in the surrounding Clackamas County area.
Yet, in the midst of this (literally) darkest hour, stories of kindness, courage and resilience have abounded.
“We have been visiting our 95-year-old friend who stays home and hasn’t had any heat nor a fireplace,” said Holly Hult Wilson. “We were just doing our part to make sure she had a visit with hot coffee, a flashlight, candles ready and plenty of blankets. We even took her a red rose for Valentine’s Day. She needed encouragement living alone and we were happy to visit through these challenging dark days.”
Sara Stolpp said her heart has been warmed in seeing the many ways neighbors have been helping neighbors with the storm cleanup.
“My neighbor Mike Dunlevy brought his chainsaw over and helped us lop broken limbs,” she said. “We are grateful for his help!”
Julie Whitney felt uplifted by all the acts of kindness she observed or personally received.
“My landlord brought me wood to keep my family warm; we got hit pretty hard with a tree coming through the roof,” she said. “Terri Cummings gave us a cook stove so we would have a warm meal. Rex Samples gave me a Presto log to help start our fireplace. So many acts of kindness. It’s a nice change from politics, coronavirus and negative comments on Facebook. Thank you, everyone, for the huge lift in a weary spirit.”
Suzee Harvey Hansen said her place in the country was also hit hard and is a “complete mess.”
“It’s going to take a long while to clean up,” she said. “However, our elderly neighbor lady helped us move trees out of our driveway several times with her tractor. Even though her place is as much of a disaster as ours is, she stopped what she was doing more than once to clear our lane. If it wasn’t for her we would have been stuck at home and no way of getting out. She is an angel in disguise!”
“Our neighbor brought us coffee both mornings, cut up fallen branches in another neighbor’s driveway, cleared a driveway on Central Point of a friend with a wheelchair-bound occupant,” said Cher Rol. “He and his daughter also removed the tree from Knights Bridge Rd that was blocking. He is such a kind and caring human; definitely a ‘helper.'”
Canby Kiwanis President Angela Baker witnessed something similar.
“I don’t know who this gentleman was but as we were walking our neighborhood, he stopped and got his chainsaw out to help take care of some trees in the road,” she said. “He was just out checking on everyone in Canby. He is one of those helpers Mr. Rogers told us to look for.”
(The man was later identified as Ken Arrigotti, owner of the Backstop Bar & Grill in downtown Canby.)
Several described impromptu gatherings that broke out in neighborhoods and apartment complexes.
“We have a cluster of neighbors on our property,” said Amy Kincaid. “Together we went out in the four-wheel-drive Saturday morning to get to a store for food and water. Then we all shared a generator, heater, and barbecue.”
Maxine Elle said some of her neighbors used their barbecue to heat water and make coffee to share with others in their apartment building — even making pancakes on Saturday morning.
“Some charged our cell phones in their cars,” she said. “Great neighbors.”
“I love our neighborhood,” agreed Kalynn Naulty. “It was so nice Saturday morning to go out and see everyone checking the damage and helping each other however we could. I was charging my neighbor’s phones and grinding their coffee; another was letting people borrow their hot plate and giving out extra firewood. Our block did what they needed to to make sure everyone was as comfortable as they could be.”
As ever, many first responders went above and beyond the call of duty.
“Canby policeman Jim Green stopped in front of our house at 7 a.m. Saturday and whipped out a chainsaw to cut up our branches that had fallen in the street,” said Luana Hill. “Then he moved them out of the way of traffic. Couldn’t have been more grateful. And who knew policemen had chainsaws?”
Likewise, Danni Lightfoot shouted out the firefighters who helped folks trapped in their RVs at Aurora Acres.
Jessie Smith, who said she was born “in the thick of the ice storm of ’78,” was blown away by the kindness shown to her widowed father by his neighbors.
“Several of our neighbors came out first thing in the morning and went to work with chainsaws cutting and clearing the debris,” she said. “My dad would not have asked, and these guys all just showed up to help. Between my husband and the neighbors, they worked out in the cold for nearly seven hours before even starting on their own properties. There is still good in this world after all.”
Businesses, too, did their part, like Cutsforth’s Market, which gave away their famous day-old doughnuts to any who needed a little pick-me-up after the grueling storm. Matt Zacher, owner of Canby Rental & Equipment on Northwest 1st Avenue, opened Saturday (without power) to sell generators and chainsaws and other critical tools.