More than 75,000 Clackamas Countians Still Without Power

At least 76,000 Clackamas Countians — more than in any other of the seven counties impacted by historic ice storms over Presidents’ Day weekend — remain without power for the fourth straight day, Portland General Electric reported Tuesday evening.

Many are in rural areas served by private wells — where no power also generally means no running water, heat, internet or cell service. While some have relied on wood stoves, propane heaters and generators to stay warm amid the crisis, this has carried the added danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, with at least four county residents succumbing to this fate since Friday.

Clackamas County — the least populated and most rural of the three Portland metro area counties — was the hardest-hit of PGE’s coverage area as of Tuesday. It had more individual outages (604) and more customers affected (76,119) than Multnomah (577, 38,652) or Washington (49, 4,061).

Marion County, home to Salem, was second, with 548 outages and 50,836 customers impacted.

While more than 3,000 personnel, including mutual assistance line workers from as far away as Montana and Nevada, have been mobilized and working around the clock since the first wave of wind and ice storms pummeled the region last Thursday, crews have struggled to gain and keep ground in some areas, particularly Clackamas County.

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

“As each storm rolls in, more ice builds up on trees and power lines,” PGE said in a Tuesday update. “That causes more and more trees and power lines to fall. We have restored power to more than 320,000 customers since the start of the storm. Unfortunately, as we repair one area, another area is impacted and more repairs have to happen.”

Numbers from PGE tell the grim and grisly tale, with nearly 8,500 wires down, including 50 feeders and 17 transmission lines, and three substations still out of commission.

“We appreciate this is frustrating and are working as fast as we can, while keeping safety for all as our priority,” PGE said. “We understand being without power in these weather conditions for an extended period of time is challenging and scary. We thank you for your patience as our crews and support teams work around the clock to safely restore your power.”

Remote learning and other activities will be canceled for the second straight day Wednesday, the Canby School District announced, with many families and staff still experiencing power outages and internet disruptions.

There will be no meal delivery, but grab-and-go meals can be picked up at Baker Prairie Middle School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Canby School Board of Directors meeting for Thursday night has also been canceled (though, in related news, the Canby City Council virtual meeting will proceed Wednesday, as scheduled).

Remote learning, limited in-person instruction, athletics and all on-campus activities are also canced for North Marion Wednesday.

The City of Canby, Canby Fire District and Canby School District have 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.

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Please cart your debris to one of these two areas, and also help your neighbors do so, if you are able.

The ice storm disrupted filming for a series of Canby High School senior one-act plays, pushing the YouTube premiere dates out one week: to Feb. 26 and 27. Visit the Canby Drama Troupe’s YouTube channel to subscribe and see the latest.

Clean-up has begun at the historic Mark Prairie Schoolhouse on South Mark Road, which was devastated by the fall of two large oak trees the night of Feb. 12.

Fortuitously, the Mark Prairie Historical Society had already had a general tree service firm scheduled to come to the property this week to do some trimming work. Mark Prairie board president Judi Aus reported Tuesday that an antique piano located in the schoolhouse was salvaged by the tree crew — having been missed by the oaks by less than a foot — but did receive some water damage.

A 40-foot, 70-year-old canvas banner featuring a number of historic local businesses was also recovered and will be taken by Cutsforth’s Market owner Frank Cutsforth, along with some books and plaques, Aus said.

A tree service crew works at the Mark Prairie Schoolhouse Tuesday. Photo by Judi Aus.

The ice storm has delayed Covid-19 testing as well as vaccine shipments, Oregon Health Authority reported. For those who are eligible, reach out to your primary care provider for the latest information.

OHA is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make sure that the state’s doses are safe and is also assisting local vaccine sites that have lost power to their freezers.

Finally, Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday decried opportunistic price gouging that has been reported in areas impacted by the winter storms — particularly with regard to lodging rates and prices for critical items.

The governor issued an executive order declaring an abnormal market disruption, which enables Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum

“We appreciate Oregon’s lodging businesses that have provided warmth and shelter to families without power due to the Presidents’ Day weekend storm that hit much of the state,” said Rosenblum. “However, price gouging is illegal. Please consider this a clear message to businesses that you may not raise the price of lodging, or any other goods or services, due to increased demand from this storm.”

Oregonians who believe they have been subjected to excessive prices for lodging or essential consumer goods and services can report to the Oregon Department of Justice through their Consumer Protection Hotline at 877-877-9392, or by visiting OregonConsumer.gov for more information.

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