SOUTH COAST — It has been almost two weeks since the largest winter storm in decades dumped inches of snow, downed power lines and left several thousands without power in Douglas and Lane counties, causing cascading impacts on local businesses as well.
Highway 38 became impassable as trees fell on the road after snapping from the weight of the snow, leaving many people stranded.
Some businesses weren’t able to get shipments or make deliveries.
As Douglas Electric Cooperative works to repair downed power lines to thousands of customers, it could be more than two more weeks before Scottsburg and Upper Smith River areas receive power.
In Reedsport, the issue wasn’t so much the snow as it was road access.
Reedsport police chief Duane Wisehart said the city came away pretty much unscathed from the storm.
The police department became a home base for people working to unblock the roads, he said, adding that there was a run on groceries and water in town.
“I expected us to be impacted more than we were,” Wisehart said. “We were pretty lucky.”
Christina Housemann, manager of Sugar Shack Bakery in Reedsport, said the road closures and power outages impacted the amount of customers in the shop last week.
She said the bakery only had a third of the business it usually has and most of the deliveries couldn’t get out because of downed trees on the roads.
Up the highway in Elkton, a town of nearly 200, an American Red Cross shelter was set up at the high school to feed residents and give them a place to shower and do laundry.
The shelter is running thanks to two $9,000 generators purchased by the school district to help get the community through the next couple weeks before power is estimated to be restored.
“Fatigue is just setting in,” Andy Boe, the superintendent of Elkton Charter School, said.
Boe lives in Drain and said he wasn’t able to drive up Highway 38 until last Thursday afternoon. Like Boe, many residents were unable to get out of their driveways and stayed home with no electricity or running water.
“People were melting snow water for a lot of days,” Boe said. “They’re starting to strategize and that’s kind of cool to see.”
He said he didn’t realize how heavy the storm would be until Sunday evening, Feb. 24, as he heard the sound of trees snapping.
Boe, who grew up in Washington, remembered hearing that sound as a child.
“I remember as a kid one time a similar storm happened when I was walking home from middle school,” Boe said. “I can still remember that sound from those trees cracking when I was a kid and it was the same on Sunday.”
He said the scariest part was that Elkton lost all forms of communication, cellphones and internet went down.
“That to me was the most shocking thing, we were just completely cut off,” Boe said. “I felt really isolated being where we were at.”
After last week’s storm, Boe said he feels less prepared than before.
“Having gone through it I know kind of a strategy,” Boe said. “There’s a lot of planning that’s going to have to be done once we get through this.”
And later, “I’m sure the emergency management people are going ‘yes this is what we’ve been talking about for years.’”