SOUTH COAST — Almost 7,000 remain without power in Douglas County following a storm that left towns isolated for days.
In a press release from Douglas County Electric, “it’s safe to say that no one was adequately prepared for (the storm).”
However, DEC wrote that it is collaborating with Pacific Power and other utilities to work with Douglas County, the Oregon Department of Transportation and a “giant number of outside contractors” to reopen roads and restore electricity.
“Douglas Electric now has over twice as many electric utility contractors, tree crews, flaggers and excavators as we have normal employees,” the release said. “Many crews are working 40-hour shifts before they get a rest period. As we cycle crews in and out to give them a little rest, others come on board. This outage is being worked 24 hours a day.”
On Thursday, DEC chartered a helicopter to survey the transmission lines throughout the county and also west of Elkton and toward the coast. The inspection showed DEC that it needs to run fly wire and put in poles to re-create parts of the system.
“Our right-of way is clean and well-maintained, but trees falling on our lines outside the right of way have brought structures down in almost three feet of snow,” the release said. “That is not a quick fix.”
The release encouraged members of the outage to visit family or friends with power.
“At this time we are not giving any estimates as to when and where that might be,” the release said. “We thank everyone for trying to understand.”
Meanwhile, the Hooskanaden Slide is still moving and has delayed work to repair Highway 101.
In an update from the Oregon Department of Transportation, U.S. Highway 101 is remain closed a few more days as the slide is moving 11 inches an hour.
“ODOT and Tidewater Contractors have mobilized equipment and are standing ready to rebuild a quarter mile of U.S. 101 after a slide near Hooskanaden Creek closed the highway 12 miles north of Brookings on Monday,” the release said. “Earlier in the week, the ground had been moving more than 2 feet an hour, resulting in enormous cracks in the road surface and a 10-foot dropoff.”
Once movement slows to three inches an hour, ODOT and Tidewater will start pouring rock and rebuilding the roadway to at least one open lane.
“Meanwhile, Tidewater is addressing a related problem uphill from the highway,” the release said. “The initial slide blocked the natural path of a creek on the hillside, shifting the runoff into the middle of the slide and causing the ground to become saturated and less stable. Tidewater is currently working on the hillside to reestablish the original channel and direct water away from the slide.”
Motorists are advised to use alternate routes, the release said.
In a separate update, ODOT announced that Oregon 138 West between Elkton and Sutherlin is now open.
“The highway had been closed since Monday, when a snowstorm knocked down power lines and trees along the roadway,” the release said. “Motorists should drive with caution as workers continue to clear trees and debris from the side of the road. Flaggers will provide traffic control as needed.”
ENGLEWOOD DIKING DISTRICT — Water overflowed into the Englewood Diking District on Friday morning.
Officials believe a clogged pipe in the dike failed to close, causing high water levels to pass on through.
Tom Gollihur, the Superintendent of the Englewood Diking District, said at about 9:30 a.m. Friday that his neighbor, Amy Murphy, noticed the water levels rising and immediately alerted him.
“We suspect there is debris stuck in the tide gate right now preventing it from closing, but we don’t know for sure,” Gollihur said. “We will have to wait for the tide to go down later this afternoon.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website, the tide prediction for Friday morning was set to be approximately 6.86 feet. Since, the tide wasn’t extremely high, Gollihur said he thinks the issue might lie in a clogged pathway.
The district, which stretches from Old Wireless Lane to California Avenue, has had challenges with its out-of-date dike for years, said Gollihur. Recently, the district has been able to conduct minor repairs, but still has a ways to go.
Currently, there are about 20 homes within the district which are susceptible to flooding if the dike fails.
According to Gollihur, the City of Coos Bay provided a load of sand Friday morning to help Murphy sand bag around her home, which lies nearest to the floodplain. Water had already begun filling in the bottom floor.
“We had debris stuck before probably about five years ago,” said Gollihur. “So far this year we did get some water in the fields, but nothing like this. This is bad.”
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is permanently canceling the large-scale military exercises in South Korea usually held in the spring, U.S. officials said Friday, handing Pyongyang a long-sought concession only days after a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke up without a deal.
The timing of the decision raised questions about whether Trump was giving away a major piece of leverage over North Korea, which has long denounced the exercises as provocative, and failing to get anything in return.
"Why negotiate with the United States when it makes concessions for free?" Abraham Denmark, a former top Pentagon official during the Obama administration, wrote in a tweet. He said the decision to halt the maneuvers would have "major implications for readiness" of U.S. and South Korean forces.
Thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops had conducted the exercises, known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle — annually for more than a decade. But last year, President Trump suspended several annual Korea exercises, citing the cost and the need to ease tensions with North Korea.
The spring maneuvers will be replaced by smaller-scale drills that don’t call for major field maneuvers but still ensure that U.S. and South Korean forces can repel a North Korean invasion, said the officials, who did not want speak on the record ahead of the formal announcement, expected today.
Trump has repeatedly complained about the large-scale exercises, saying they’re too costly and that the U.S. bears too much of the financial burden. But defenders say the training is relatively cheap, noting estimates that a separate Korea exercise staged by the Pentagon cost only $14 million a year.
The president hinted at the decision to cancel them Thursday at a news conference in Hanoi.
"Those exercises are very expensive," Trump said. "And I was telling the generals, I said: Look, you know, exercising is fun and it’s nice and they play the war games. And I’m not saying it’s not necessary, because, at some levels, it is, but at other levels, it’s not. But it’s a very, very expensive thing."
U.S. officials are expected to inform South Korea of the decision shortly, the officials said. The exercise halt was first reported by NBC News.
In the past, U.S. conducted several major field exercises with South Korea each year, one in late summer or fall and one in the spring, as well as several other training events that using computer simulations and tabletop war games.
Pentagon officials and U.S. commanders in South Korea, where the U.S. keeps 28,500 troops, have been discussing changes to the exercises since they were suspended last year, officials said. It was initially expected that the cancellation announcement could be part of a summit agreement between Trump and Kim.
Plans to announce the cancellation proceeded, despite the lack of a summit deal.
Pentagon officials long have believed that maneuvers involving troops, warplanes, tanks and mock amphibious invasions help deter North Korean aggression and are essential to maintaining readiness, because of high annual turnover of U.S. troops in South Korea.
But last month the U.S. commander in Korea, Army Gen. Robert Abrams, played down the decision to halt the joint exercises, saying troops from both countries remained prepared to defend South Korea "without sacrificing warfighting readiness to unacceptable levels."
Trump cut short the summit Thursday with no agreement on rolling back North Korea’s nuclear program, a setback to his high-profile diplomatic outreach to the reclusive nation.
Kim had sought the lifting of most economic sanctions in return for a promise to dismantle at least part of his Yongbyon nuclear facility, an offer the administration deemed inadequate, a senior State Department official said.
The decision to proceed with the cancellation after the failed summit "looks bad, but I suspect it was agreed separately and people did not consider how it would look if Hanoi failed," said Melissa Hanham, a nuclear weapons expert and North Korea specialist at One Earth Future, an anti-proliferation organization based in Colorado.
Meanwhile, the parents of the American college student who was sent home from North Korea in a vegetative state spoke out Friday, after Trump's comment this week that he takes Kim "at his word" that he was unaware of any mistreatment during the young man's 17 months of captivity. Otto Warmbier died at age 22 soon after his return in June 2017.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement Friday: "Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity," they said. "No excuses or lavish praise can change that."
The president said Friday afternoon he was being misinterpreted.
"Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto's mistreatment and death," he tweeted, without mentioning Kim.
Trump praised the Warmbiers as "a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength" and said he loves Otto and thinks of him often.
COOS COUNTY — It’s time to clean out the medicine cabinets because the annual Drug Take Back Day is coming soon.
For the sixth year in a row, Bay Area Hospital and fellow sponsors are inviting community members to drop off unused medicine and used syringes for proper and free disposal.
On March 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Coos Bay Fire Station, people can drive right through and leave containers of pills and needles behind.
“The Drug Disposal Coalition is working hard to expand drug drop-off sites or medication sites,” said Kate Frame, prescription drug overdose prevention coordinator for Advanced Health, which is one of the sponsors for the event. “We want people to dispose of drugs properly to reduce pill diversion, or pills getting into the wrong hands or the risk of a lethal dose being in your cupboard that someone can get into. We don’t want people to flush them either.”
The idea behind the event began with BAH’s head pharmacist six years ago. When it first started, the event took place at the North Bend City Council Chambers and the DEA, as well as local law enforcement, were required to be there.
“It was a rigid process,” said Barbara Bauder, chief development officer for the hospital. “We did it that way for one or two years.”
But then came the Drug Disposal Coalition, comprised of SCINT, law enforcement from both North Bend and Coos Bay, BAH, the North Bend Medical Center, Coos Health and Wellness and Advanced Health. The group met to discuss the importance of continuing the event and how it would help get these drugs out of medicine cabinets that are either expired or unused before they are stolen, sold or used by someone else or disposed of incorrectly.
“You shouldn’t hold onto your unused medications,” Frame said. “They were prescribed for a time period and that time has passed, so get rid of them. If you need them again, your doctor will prescribe more.”
It wasn’t until last year that the event took on even more than just unused medicine, but also used needles.
“They are difficult to dispose,” Bauder said. “People can’t just throw them away. One year when we weren’t accepting needles, maybe two years ago, a women brought in 40 tied containers full of needles because people just don’t know what to do with them.”
After that, a grant was received allowing the event to also take those needles.
Just last year, the event took in 197 pounds of needles and over 200 pounds of over the counter and prescription drugs.
“We know it’s important,” Bauder said. “This year, we are taking needles again. Unfortunately, the needles we get, that are important to take back, are not the needles being found at parks and beaches and the side of the road. I don’t think people doing heroin bring them back, though we wish they would because people find them in places where kids play.”
Though Drug Take Back Day is successful in raising awareness on properly disposing unused pills, there are two permanent receptacles that take that kind of unwanted medicine throughout the year. Both look like mailboxes, but sit inside the lobby at each police station in Coos Bay and North Bend.
“When our Emergency Department is finished, there will be a third there,” Bauder said. “Right now, both are emptied once a week. Every other month, or once a quarter, two law enforcement individuals take them up to be incinerated.”
For Frame at Advanced Health, she has seen important conversations start in the community since the Drug Take Back Day began.
“People are take advantage of disposing medication,” she said. “It has helped bring the community together to reduce the number of pills and is opening the conversation for safe needle disposal because we are seeing an excess of used syringes all over town. This event is raising a platform for the community and taking hundreds and hundreds of pounds of medication, including prescription opiates, out of the cycle.”