We are always preaching energy conservation and looking for ways for our consumers to slow their meters down, but the events that began Feb. 24 are not what we had in mind.

Pacific Power Perspective — “Snowmageddon 2019” as some have called it closed roads and schools, and disrupted lives with extended power outages.

More significant than the damage, however, was the vibrant community spirit that we saw throughout our service territory. Throughout this storm, we witnessed neighbors helping neighbors in any way they could — sharing supplies, clearing debris and showing much-appreciated support for our crews out battling the elements to do their jobs.

We also appreciate all the thank you’s and encouragement you provided to our lineman while they were out working and it surely helped keep them going.

During the outage, restoration work continued around the clock. Our local crews were soon joined by other Pacific Power employees and contract crews from Portland, Albany, Astoria, Coos Bay, Pendleton, Yakima, Walla Walla, California, Bend, Grants Pass, Medford and other areas. I know you all saw the crews out there working day and night during the storm.

What’s not so visible is that this work has continued for weeks after the snow receded and power was restored. Additional repairs to the electric grid, hazard trees trimmed and removed, hundreds of service connections needing repair and the work goes on.

Pacific Power is proud to serve you and the community, and the patience and grit you demonstrated during the storm and its aftermath makes us even more so. We thank you again for your understanding during those days, and the opportunity to serve you every day.

Douglas Electric Co-op Perspective — With all 2,200 square miles of service territory in the dark, our entire grid system down and temperatures in the 20s, our members would have preferred to spin the meter and use a little energy for heat, lights, refrigeration and water heating.

Even with spring foliage, anyone taking a trip from Roseburg to Reedsport will witness the devastation still evident along the sides of the highways. The challenge with our service territory is that very little of it exists along the sides of the highways. Accessibility is a challenge.

We heard two things from our many contract crews; “We have never been taken care of so well.” and “We have never, ever worked a terrain as difficult as this, anywhere.” We loved hearing the first part, and we already knew the second.

The answer to many questions is that this was a $10 million restoration effort for Douglas Electric Cooperative. It’s why everyone’s power wasn’t turned on first, and immediately. It’s why so much labor and material was acquired from all over the northwest and beyond. It’s why those who are least prepared to live in rural Douglas County suffered the most. The cost of this storm directly reflects the damage incurred.

At the end of the day, an incredible number of people pitched in to help friends, neighbors and families through this little wake-up call. If we have a significant seismic event, the memory of this storm will fade quickly, and preparations for the next event should happen sooner rather than later.

Todd C. Munsey is the Member Services Director for Douglas Electric Cooperative and Sam Carter is the Regional Business Manager for Pacific Power. This column is a monthly feature of Douglas County Smart Energy, a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy, visit dcsmartenergy.org.

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