Winter Storm Hits The Mountain Hard
By Amber Ford
After an unusually dry and warm December, winter finally showed up in full force, pounding the Mt. Hood Villages and the Mt. Hood National Forest. Beginning Saturday, January 13th and lasting throughout much of the following week, residents experienced firsthand how powerful winter can be. As wind and snow pelted much of the community, downed trees and power outages made it nearly impossible for residents to leave their homes. Arctic temperatures and lack of power forced residents to find alternative heat sources as Portland General Electric worked around the clock to restore power from Sandy to Government Camp.
Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge and Mt. Hood Skibowl all had to suspend operations due to strong storm winds and power outages. While power was restored to a number of Mt. Hood Village residents by Sunday evening, a number of neighborhoods between Timberline Rim, off Barlow Trail, and many off Welches Road, did not see power restored fully for several days after the storm. Residents relied heavily on generators to keep their homes above freezing for heat and to protect water lines. According to Mt. Hood Village resident Nicole Guyer, her generator made all the difference when it came to waiting out the storm.
“My generator was a lifesaver in this savage storm,” Guyer said. “The silver lining was being able to have friends affected by the outage come to my home and have a warm meal, bed and shower,” Guyer said. “I feel much closer to my community after getting through this storm with them,” Guyer added.
As if the snow and arctic temperatures were not enough, days after the community finally saw a majority of its power restored, two ice storms rolled through, with rising temperatures during the day and a plunge into freezing at night, causing busted water lines for residential and commercial properties. Many businesses from Welches to Government Camp experienced flooding from broken pipes and another round of forced closures due to lack of water. School districts from Portland to the Mt. Hood Villages were canceled for the week as crews worked to make repairs to damaged water lines and other issues caused from the week of winter weather.
While severe winter weather is nothing new to the communities surrounding Mt. Hood, the below normal temperatures compounded with high winds had a devastating impact for many.
“During the last bit of ice we had I was driving home to add more wood to my stove so the pipes wouldn’t freeze and I heard this loud noise behind me: an entire tree came down inches from my car,” resident Brenna Levesque said. “It wasn’t until I got back to work and saw on several local media sites that the tree that almost hit me took out power to neighborhoods as well,” Levesque added.
Although it is unclear how long certain local businesses will remain closed due to water damage, flooding and this most recent bout of ice, it is evident that the Mt. Hood Villages community members pulled together in times of need. Mt. Hood Lions Club offered a resource center with bottled water, heat and a charging station for residents still without power. and residents have been encouraging one another to support local businesses once it is safe to do so.