After a blast of historically low temperatures, ice and a touch of snow blew through a hunkered-down Canby area over Christmas without causing major issues, a follow-up windstorm made its presence felt on Tuesday, felling branches and tree limbs and knocking out power to thousands across the state.
Beginning in the early morning hours, strong, sustained winds began knocking out electricity across Clackamas County and Oregon, with at least 125,000 households without power during the peak of outages Tuesday evening, including more than 1,000 in rural areas and communities surrounding Canby.
Knights Bridge Road in Canby was closed for several hours in the late morning and early afternoon, as Canby Utility crews worked to repair a downed power line due to a fallen tree.
“These winds are blowing debris into our lines, taking down trees and damaging high-voltage transmission lines,” said Dale Goodman, Portland General Electric director of utility operations. “The sustained winds make it challenging for crews to safely work in bucket trucks and on high wires, where we are seeing the impacts of the winds on our equipment.”
PGE said it had more than 600 personnel and contract crews working nonstop, with more mutual aid crews on the way from California, Idaho and Washington — and was still struggling to reach all areas in need of repair due to the extent of the damage and the strong, sustained winds expected to continue through the afternoon. More than 600 wires were damaged by falling branches and debris, PGE said.
PGE had reduced the number of households experiencing power outages to just over 20,000 by mid-afternoon Wednesday — but flood water and damaged roads have were causing challenges as crews continue restoration efforts. Utility officials said they expected to restore the majority of customers in the next few days, but admitted some outages may extend into the weekend.
“We know it’s difficult to be without power, and we thank our customers for their patience as our crews work as quickly as safety allows to restore power,” said Goodman. “We recognize that some of our customers who are without power experienced outages during last week’s severe weather. Others may experience multiple power outages today as we make repairs, and the wind causes new damage.”
PGE officials warned residents to steer clear of downed utility lines, regardless of whether they appear to be insulated such as telephone or cable lines, and assume any downed lines are live and extremely dangerous.
Never touch downed wires with your body or any object. Stay as far away as you can — and keep kids and pets away, too. Report any downed lines to PGE immediately at 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795. Call 9-1-1 if other public safety issues exist, like fire or traffic problems.
Use safe cooking, heating, and lighting practices during a power outage. Information on safe generator use and other safety tips are available on PGE’s website.
If experiencing an outage, please be patient and know crews are attempting to fix the issue as quickly as safety allows. Winter weather is unpredictable, so PGE encourages customers to be prepared for outages that may last for an extended period.
To report or get updates about an outage, log into your PGE account or call 503-228-6322 or 800-542-8818. An updated outage map is also available online at portlandgeneral.com/outages and via the utility’s app for Android and Apple devices.
On Wednesday, Canby Utility requested an emergency closure of North Cedar Street and Northwest 7th Avenue due to a water main leak, the City of Canby reported. The closure was for 7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, with some additional work possibly being needed on Thursday. Emergency vehicles were still permitted to travel through the work zone.
And Clackamas County officials also on Wednesday announced a weeklong closure for the Canby Ferry due to the power outage and high water levels on the Willamette River. The ferry will reopen after the water level recedes, officials said.
Check for updates at www.bit.ly/canbyferry or by calling the Canby Ferry Information Line at 503-650-3030.
County officials were also hard at work assisting PGE crews in clearing storm debris across the county, reportedly having removed more than 50 trees from roads as of Wednesday morning.
Fortunately, no injuries were reported as a result of any of these falls. County officials advised residents to clear storm drains on their streets where possible to reduce the chances of flooding.
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