Late Winter Challenges on the McKenzie River

The past two months tested and challenged our community. As a community we grouped together, helped those in need and supported each other when times were tough. We are very thankful to all the people that worked long, hard, cold hours to help restore power, plow driveways, climbed trees, cut limbs out of the road ways and gave help where ever it was needed. February brought us the worst, heavy, wet, snow storm that the McKenzie River area has experienced in almost 48 years. Most areas had about 19 inches of snow in 2 -3 days.

The power was out in some areas for 10 days, most of those folks are on wells which means no water either. Bottled water in the local markets was scarce. Some folks could not get back home because the snow came very quickly and their driveways were buried. Some who have experienced several bad storms in the past had generators.

Thanks to all of the folks that made our community a stronger place to live.

Another challenge was most built-in home generators run off propane and the propane trucks could not deliver because the roads were closed or blocked from downed trees. No power for many also meant no heat. If you have lived in this area long enough you know a wood stove is a must. I found myself melting snow on the wood stove to flush toilets. I was also amazed at how much snow it really takes to melt down to get enough water to flush a toilet. I have a friend that was scooping water out of their hot tub to flush toilets, very creative I thought. When we hear of a storm coming in we usually fill the bathtub with water, however like a lot of folks, we figure the storm would not last long and so did not bother. We also forgot to open our electric garage door before the power went out. Luckily we did have a generator and enough gas to keep it running. I also have a gas cook top stove so felt very lucky.

We really did not suffer much, especially because after about 4 days of no showers it dawned on me, this is ridiculous, we own a VRBO home in Waldport, it has power, water, heat and showers and is was vacant for a few days. So I packed our suitcases, got the garage door opened and headed out, until we got about 500 ft from home and the EWEB park, which we live over the EWEB bridge and on the other side of the park, was covered in downed trees. Back home we went. Next day my husband and I and a neighbor spent most of the day with a chain saw cutting trees out the other roadway so we could make a path to escape. We did escape to the beach and it snowed the next morning at the beach. but then we had two lovely days of sunshine and 50 degree weather, all of which had to come to an end. We had to go back to reality at home which still had no power or water for another day. Out yard was completely covered in downed trees, limbs and debris, but the house survived. The work load of cleaning up began, and it will be on going for many weeks to come.

In early April Mother Nature handed us a massive rain storm, flooding the rivers, streams and lake. We live at Leaburg Lake and the lake came up overnight flooding many of the neighbor’s yards and covering their docks with water. Many had water up to their decks. I advised them to wear life jackets to bed. My husband built our dock so when the water rises or falls, the dock raises or lowers with it. He also has it tied to a huge tree way up in the yard out of the water way, a smart man. Again we are lucky our house sits up high so we were not in danger.

Huge trees and limbs were floating down, smashing into everything on the way. The dam had both roll gates wide open, driving over the bridge to get in or out was a little shaky. It lasted a couple of days and then a thunder and lightning storm hit, finally the next day the rivers and lakes peaked out. The rivers and creeks will be running high for some time. The snow in the mountains is melting fast. So much for spring skiing.

During these recent two events I saw and heard of many, many stories of folks helping each other with places to stay, bringing meals, sharing bottled water, inviting folks in for showers if you had a generator, making phone calls to make sure your neighbor was safe and warm, neighbors plowing driveways for free, offering rides to town, shopping for groceries and delivering them, helping to clean up yards, sharing firewood and sharing many experiences as a community as a whole. Many thanks to all the Line people that worked day and night in the cold and wet to help our community get their lives back to semi-normal conditions.

It takes a Village to make a Community. Thanks to all of the folks that made our community a stronger place to live. I am very happy to be part of such a wonderful community for the past 40 years and hope for many more to come.

Nadine Scott, president

McKenzie Chamber of Commerce