Lights out, Douglas County.
Thousands of people are without power as strong afternoon winds are throwing debris into roadways, pushing over trees and knocking down power lines. Even a stretch of Interstate 5 southbound, between milepost 124 and 127, was backed up because of a hazard on the road.
According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts reached 43 mph Friday afternoon at the Roseburg Regional Airport.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, less than 3,000 Pacific Power customers in Douglas County are without power, down from 12,000 earlier in the day. As of 7:30 p.m., 115 Douglas Electric Cooperative customers are without power.
Todd Munsey, a spokesman with the Douglas Electric Cooperative, said customers in Camas Valley/Tenmile area have power restored.
Munsey said members in the North Tenmile Lake area will not have power restored this evening.
The brief but furious storm caused havoc everywhere, snapping trees, damaging roofs and forcing many businesses to temporarily close their doors without power. For a few hours, driving required extra patience while traffic signals were dark.
The winds blew so hard they downed a large oak tree onto Jeannie Hagstrom’s 1895 historic home off Northwest Keasey Street in Roseburg and broke a gas meter.
“I was inside cleaning, wrapping curtains, doing my thing. I heard the wind first, like a hurricane. The electricity went out, then I heard this huge crackling big boom. I thought it was in the sky but it was a tree,” Hagstrom said.
A few minutes later she saw the limbs in the backyard falling, and then went out to the front yard and there she saw the tree had fallen. She also smelled and heard the gas spewing out. She called 9-1-1 and Avista, grabbed her Papillon Pomeranian dog Casey and went to the neighbor’s house.
She also called her daughter Jennifer Pierson, who lives in Newton Creek. But Pierson said it wasn’t easy to get there.
“All the traffic lights were out for like 45 minutes, and she kept calling me, and I can’t answer my phone while I’m driving so she was kind of worried about me,” Pierson said.
Pierson described what she saw when she arrived.
“Just as she described it actually, a big oak tree fell on her roof and knocked her gutters off, gas was hissing everywhere and I saw the fire truck. I knew she was safe down here at the neighbor’s house,” Pierson said.
Tom Morin was at his home on the west end of Roseburg when the storm hit. The sound of something crashing prompted him to go outside, where he saw his neighbor’s large pine tree snapped at the base and laying in the road.
Behind him, shingles were missing from the roof of his home, with some of them lying in his driveway. The damage spans close to half the width of his roof, and a tarp is in place to protect the house from potential water damage.
Morin, 74, said the storm reminded him of the Columbus Day Storm of 1962, which spanned from northern California to the southern tip of British Columbia, killed more than 50 people and caused billions of dollars in today’s money in repairs, according to www.oregonencyclopedia.org.
This storm, however, packed a punch but was extremely short-lived.
“It sure didn’t last all that long. Maybe a half-hour,” Morin said. “It seemed kind of gusty. It didn’t seem like it would do something like that.”
Mike Henneke contributed to this story.
Local Republicans and Democrats recently elected their leaders for the coming year.
Realtor Valynn Currie was elected chairwoman of the Douglas County Republicans, replacing Fred Dayton.
Currie is the owner of Currieco Realty in Roseburg. She has been a realtor for 41 years and has a business background. She’s a native Oregonian and has lived in Douglas County most of her life.
Currie said the Republicans plan to expand their base and include more precinct committee persons to accomplish their goals.
“I am excited to move the Republican party forward to the 2020 election,” she said.
Other Republican officers elected are Vice Chairwoman Kathey Linn, Treasurer Cal Linn and Secretary Jan Mornarich.
The Democratic Party of Douglas County re-elected Alana Lenihan as its chairwoman. Lenihan became interim chairwoman after former chairwoman Lorna Hayden died in October 2017. Lenihan was then elected chairwoman in January and re-elected this month.
Lenihan said she primarily focused on her family before becoming involved in politics and also spent many years working in customer service and bookkeeping. She’s originally from Phoenix, Arizona but currently lives in Sutherlin.
Lenihan said the Democrats’ goals in the coming year “include promoting ideas and agendas that benefit working families in Douglas County.” She also said the Democratic organization wants to become more visible in the community.
Other Democratic officers elected are Vice Chairwoman Billie Spell, Treasurer Heather Faldalen, Recording Secretary Connie Page and Corresponding Secretary Rob Johnston.