Thousands of Rural Residents Mark Tenth Day Without Power

Ten days without power, heat and running water. What might have been unthinkable just weeks ago is the frustrating reality for upwards of 8,000 Portland General Electric customers in the rural areas surrounding Canby, Molalla and Oregon City.

The utility made progress throughout Sunday, bringing an additional 10,000 customers online from Saturday evening’s mark. PGE crews were seen in rural neighborhoods on Carus Road, Casto Road, Mulino Road, at Ninety-One School in Whiskey Hill and others.

According to the company’s latest restoration map, 5,639 households were still without power in the rural areas surrounding Canby and south and east of Oregon City, along with 2,563 in the Molalla area. It may be up to seven days before all the customers in these zones are fully restored, the company estimates.

Line crews report hilly terrain and extreme damage to poles and other PGE infrastructure among the challenges in these areas.

Because most rural residents are on private wells, no power means usually means no running water — for people, pets or livestock.

“Dirty, thirsty and like I need to poop!” said one resident who lives on Barlow Road east of Woodburn, when asked how she was doing after 10 days without electricity. “What I wouldn’t do for some running water!”

“I’ve stopped counting and just let time be a blur,” said another. “The line to our house dropped, and who knows when it’ll be reconnected. Wish we had a hot water tank. In the meantime, warming water on the turkey fryer for ‘showers’ and dishes. Our family can’t focus on complaining about how many days it is now. Does it suck? You betcha. No use complaining about something you have no control over.”

The latest tally from PGE said power has been restored to approximately 690,900 since the storm began. However, at least a quarter of customers have faced repeat outages due to new waves of wind and ice during the three-day event, and crews have repeatedly reported encountering more severe damage than expected as they push into increasingly remote areas.

An encouraging trend has been the continuing efforts of area residents to support and reach out to their still-powerless neighbors. Ninety-One School hosted a community relief day for area families Saturday, offering blankets, ready-to-eat meals (MREs), water, firewood and other resources.

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Courtesy Arlene Anderson.

Shortly after getting the lights back on themselves, Arlene Anderson and Kip Knote, owners of Aurora-based Arlene Cuisine, loaded up their catering truck and headed to neighborhoods still in the dark.

On Sunday, the Arlene Cuisine team visited the Deer Creek Estates mobile home park near Aurora State Airport — where power had been restored the previous night after nine days — and handed out nearly 100 hot, homemade meals.

“It was really awesome,” Anderson said afterward. “Lots of commiserating over the loss of power and water, and lots of thank you’s. We’re all in this together, and we’re getting each other to the other side of it.”

Arlene Cuisine plans to visit another Aurora neighborhood, Century Meadows, from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday. The park also recently got their lights back on, but Anderson figures many residents had to throw out refrigerator and freezer contents due to the outage.

“So we think a hot meal will be appreciated,” she said. “My friend is the immediate past HOA president and current treasurer, so I reached out to her. She and the rest of the board are hosting us and spreading the word.”

Arlene Cuisine, who did similar meals in the wake of the Labor Day wildfires for first responders and evacuated neighborhoods, are also partnering with Daryl and Amy Lenhardt, owners of the Whiskey Hill Store, to share a meal for folks in that area on Wednesday and is hoping to do another event later this week for people in Lakewood and the North Marion School District.

Finally, the city reminds residents that the debris drop sites at North Maple Street Park and Ackerman Center are now closed. The only free dump site still open to the public is at the city shops off Northeast Territorial Road.

For those who are mulching their debris, Canby Area Beautification asks that you consider donating wood chips to use as ground cover for their plantings along Highway 99E. You are welcome to dump at any of their planting sites on 99E, including across from Canby Builders Supply, Fred Meyer and NW Furniture Outlet (please don’t bury any rosebushes).

CAB will coordinate a volunteer spreading day this spring.

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