ROSEBURG, Ore. — While the southernmost Oregon counties have seen, at most, an unusual amount of rain and snow this week, Douglas County has taken the brunt of a series of storms — with heavy snow bringing down trees and power lines, restricting travel and leaving thousands without electricity.
On Wednesday, the Douglas County Boar of Commissioners declared a state of emergency, according to a joint statement issued by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office (DCSO).
"The order was recorded and forwarded onto our Emergency Manager for processing, and submission to the State and Governor Brown’s office requesting an official emergency declaration for Douglas County," DCSO said. "The order cited severe winter storms, heavy snowfall, widespread power outages and road closures from downed trees and power lines."
An emergency declaration from the Governor's office would allow "increased flexibility," DCSO said, in how services are managed — making sure that the safety of residents is assured.
"The Governor’s emergency declaration will also authorize state agencies to expedite additional resources services management tools to users who would not otherwise have access," DCSO said.
Meanwhile, Pacific Power said that crews had been working throughout the day on snowy roads amid "a massive amount of damage," restoring power to about 6,000 people between the Willamette Valley and Roseburg areas.
“We are getting close to restoring the last of the customers in the Willamette Valley communities such as Cottage Grove and Lebanon where fewer than 650 customers remain without power,” said David Lucas, vice president of operations. “Overnight, we will be moving additional crews and resources to Douglas County to concentrate on this area of widespread damage.”
By Thursday afternoon, the utility estimated that it would have 200 crew members working in Douglas county alone — removing trees, repairing power lines, and fixing other damaged equipment. But Pacific Power said that the ongoing weather conditions would make for "slow going."
“The patience and support our crews have seen in the community have been great,” said Sam Carter, regional business manager for Douglas County. “It has been a lot to endure, but as I talk with people from around the county, it looks like neighbors are helping each other get through it.”
In the meantime, and Emergency Operations Center has been set up at the Sheriff's Office to get emergency services where they are needed, plus providing updates to locals.
"Do not call 9-1-1 to determine when your power will be turned back on," DCSO said. "The emergency dispatchers do not have access to this information. Contact your power company directly to determine an estimated time of restoration."
Shelters and warming centers have been set up at several locations in Douglas County:
- American Red Cross Shelter - Winston Foursquare Church, 540 SE Main St, Winston, OR
- Dream Center - 813 SE Lane Street, Roseburg, OR (Open 7p – 7a) - (541) 673-5918
- Yoncalla Elementary Gym - 400 First Street, Yoncalla, OR
- Sutherlin Community Center - 150 Willamette Street, Sutherlin, OR
"We continue to encourage residents travel with caution," DCSO said. "If driving is required, motorists should be prepared for potential hazards and plan accordingly. If traveling ensure you have sufficient emergency supplies including food, water, medications, winter clothing, flashlights and blankets. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination and reduce your speed."