Local Volunteers Aid Winter Storm Relief Effort
By Adrian Knowler
Over 300 local residents received emergency relief in the days following a winter storm that disrupted power and water for many in the Mt Hood corridor.
Relief was provided in a coordinated response between around 90 local volunteers, state and county emergency management agencies and local businesses, centered at the Lion’s Club in Welches.
According to Portland General Electric, over 150,000 customers lost electricity at some point during the storm, which slammed the area with snow, ice and high winds.
Volunteers at the Lion’s Club distributed bottled water, food boxes, and firewood bundles to local households in the multi-day effort. The volunteers, many of whom are club members, also cooked and served hot food to those who were still without electricity or water. Some people just took the opportunity to charge electronic devices and take in the warmth. SNAP benefit recipients also received help filing claims to recuperate benefits to replace food that spoiled during the storm.
Volunteer Michelle Cassel said that over 100 home deliveries of food and water were made to senior citizens.
Gesch said the Lion’s Club has applied for grant funding to get a generator, in part so the building can be used again in future emergencies. “We’d like to do this more going forward,” she said.
Volunteer Melinda McCrossen said that the fact that the Lion’s Club and its members are known and trusted in the community helped make the effort successful. “It was a huge success because of Lion’s Club’s participation, both the building and the amazing, caring community,” she said. “We could never have done it without this trusted, local partner. The community pulled together and made it happen.” McCrossen is a member of the Emergency Preparedness Council and said community leaders are working to improve local readiness for future events, including wildfires.
Volunteers interviewed at the Lion’s Club said a list of local senior citizens and vulnerable people is being compiled to ensure priority response in the future, and they hope to see legislation passed that would keep cell phone towers powered by backup generators for at least three days.
Lion’s Club vice president and head of public relations Cari Gesch said it showed how the community bands together in times of adversity. “We all come together in these events and help each other,” she said. “We’re all mountain strong.”