Canby Area Digging Out from Historic Ice Storm

With the lights slowly coming back on in and around Canby, thousands of area residents are in the process of digging their way out of the most destructive ice storm to hit the region in the last 40 years.

The juice started flowing again Sunday night, with many neighborhoods coming back online around 8 p.m. or later.

A number of restaurants and other local businesses reopened Monday, some with limited services and seating.

Portland General Electric reported another wave of ice, snow and wind in this worst-in-decades storm brought down more trees and tree limbs Sunday night and Monday morning, setting back service restoration efforts in the surrounding areas by taking out additional power lines and equipment.

With these new outages, more than 288,000 PGE customers remained without power as of noon Monday.

Roughly 700 PGE, contract and mutual assistance line workers from as far away as Montana and Nevada are continuing their tireless efforts to assess ongoing damage and restore power. Including support and customer service personnel, PGE has mobilized more than 2,500 workers to help with storm response and restoration.

Although they will restore power in each affected area as they complete repairs, PGE’s crews and system engineers estimate it will take many days to restore service to everyone.

A downed utility pole on South Township Road near Canby. Photo by Tyler Francke.

The historic storm that began on Thursday caused extraordinary damage across the state, with at least 6,500 PGE power lines brought down by ice and tree limbs, and multiple transmission lines severely damaged. At peak, about 253,000 PGE customers were affected Saturday.

Because of the sheer number of outages and the magnitude of the damage, PGE is not able to offer estimates for when power will be restored, the utility said Monday. Customers can check for updates at portlandgeneral.com/outages, using the PGE app for smartphones, by calling PGE at 503-464-7777 or by following PGE on social media.

“We cannot thank affected customers enough for their patience in uncertain, difficult, and cold conditions as our crews work as quickly as safety allows to bring the power back on,” PGE said in a press release. “The changing weather conditions and continuing damage to our system means some customers are experiencing multiple outages as more trees and tree limbs succumb to the additional weight of thawing ice.”

Mutual assistance from across the region allowed PGE to double the number of crews working since Saturday to fix more than 200 miles of damaged transmission lines, extensive substation and feeder damage and more than 4,900 downed power lines.

Always assume that any downed line is live and extremely dangerous and stay far clear. Never touch a downed wire with your body or any object. Do not attempt to clear brush and debris away from downed lines and report any downed line immediately to PGE by calling 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795.

Canby Utility began experiencing power interruptions at its two substations early Thursday as the winter storm arrived. Both stations lost power completely Friday afternoon, Canby Utility reported, and remained dark until Sunday.

The utility’s drinking water system was also damaged in the storm, and crews worked through the nights and weekend to restore service. Highway 99E was completely closed at the Logging Road Trail overpass due to lines down.

Numerous large limbs piled up in Wait Park downtown — fortunately causing little apparent damage to the beloved gazebo, restrooms or playgrounds. A certain local news crew made an ill-advised visit to the park on Saturday and managed to avoid any serious injury.

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Due to the continued widespread power outages, remote learning and all in-person activities are canceled for the Canby School District on Tuesday. Free student meals can be picked up at Baker Prairie Middle School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We hope you are safe and warm after the historic storm knocked out power and caused significant damage across our community,” Communications Coordinator Autumn Foster said in an email to district families Monday. “As you know, the damage is widespread and affecting families and staff members in Clackamas County and beyond.”

Additional closures this week will be communicated to families directly, Foster noted.

Storm debris on the campus of Carus Elementary School. Photo by Tyler Francke.

The North Marion School District is also closed Tuesday, with all on-campus activities canceled including limited in-person instruction, testing, athletics and meal deliveries. The district said it will provide an update to families when power is restored.

Clackamas Community College is also closed Tuesday: No remote learning or telework will take place.

Due to the debris issues caused by the ice storm, the Canby Fire District opened backyard burning Monday. District residents are still advised to call the daily burn line at 503-266-1195 before burning.

Fire officials advise keeping a responsible person with a garden hose at the burn pile, and locate burn piles away from any structures and combustibles.Finally, firefights ask residents to please be conscious of any smoke impact on neighbors, and put the burn pile out if it is causing health issues.

Call 911 if you or a family member is having a medical emergency, including those needing oxygen assistance.

Also on Monday, the City of Canby and Canby Fire set up two drop sites for debris: at Maple Street Park, near the new splash pad, and the parking lot between the Ackerman Center (350 SE 13th Ave.) and Canby Adult Center. The city is also looking for a curbside option. Until then, residents who have the ability to visit this drop site or — bring debris on behalf of their neighbors — are asked to please do so.

The City of Canby, Canby Fire District, Clackamas County and Oregon Governor Kate Brown all declared states of emergency this weekend to mobilize resources to address crisis.

The governor’s disaster declaration Saturday applied to Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, Marion, Yamhill, Linn, Polk, Benton and Hood River counties. The worst damage was in the tri-county area, Brown said, with the continued weather leading to new outages faster than power can be restored.

“Utilities in our region have never experienced such widespread outages, including during the September 2020 wildfires,” Brown said in a statement Monday. “The state of emergency I declared on Saturday will ensure that all necessary state resources are available on the ground to help Oregonians impacted by this winter storm.

“I want to thank all the local and state workers, first responders, and utility crews who continue to work around the clock in incredibly difficult conditions to clear roads, restore power, and aid families in need. I am also incredibly grateful for work crews who have stepped in from other states to assist.”

She advised Oregonians in impacted communities to remain home as much as possible, as road conditions remain poor.

“Check on your neighbors and loved ones when you can do so safely,” she said. “Please help our first responders by staying home when you can.”

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