Nancy Wallace returned to her Elkton home Friday morning for the first time since the power went out two weeks ago.
Wallace has been staying with her daughter, who lives in the country and has a wood stove and a generator. She was thrilled when she learned the lights were back.
“I did a little dance, and celebrated a little,” Wallace said.
Residents within Elkton city limits had power restored about 4 p.m. Thursday after two weeks in the dark, thanks to some “creative engineering” by Douglas Electric Cooperative. The schools, already operating on generator power, remain running on a generator, as does the city’s water and sewer plant, said Elkton Public Works Foreman Gary Trout.
Though Wallace’s daughter made her feel welcome, she said she still found it a little hard to stay in another home for so long. She worried she would be a nuisance, and it was a bit awkward for her dachshund to fit into a household with other pets.
The snowstorm was a bit of a shock for Wallace, who was born and raised in Southern California, and spent many years in Northern California before moving to Elkton three years ago. On Friday morning, she was wearing a down jacket as she ran the heater to warm up the house.
“I’m fine. I’m luckier than most people with what I have, but I’m a native Southern California child of the sun, and it’s hard for me,” she said.
Bill Hubbard had been staying in Eugene since the lights went out, but said Friday he had learned from a neighbor the power was back and planned to return home that day.
The storm’s been a hardship for Hubbard. His freezer had been full when the power went out, and he lost everything in it. When he left, it was 38 degrees in the daytime inside his home.
“If I had a wood stove, I’d have been fine,” he said.
For people living outside of town, power could remain off for another week, maybe longer. One man, who asked we not use his name, lives a couple miles south of town and said his life right now is pretty much the same as camping. He’s been cooking elk steaks and breakfast food outside, with a grill and a camping stove, and sitting around the wood stove. He has a generator hooked up to provide hot running water. Before they got that connected, they visited friends in Drain to take showers.
He wasn’t too concerned about the wait for power restoration.
“I know those guys are working on it, and they’ll get to it when they can,” he said.
Trout said he’s still in the dark at home, and heating with propane. It’s “a little chilly,” he said.
At work at Elkton City Hall, things are pretty busy. The lights and heat are on, and so are the internet and the computers. Trout said the city is asking residents to continue conserving water, but so far everyone’s been great about it.
The Red Cross shelter remains busy, mostly with people coming in from the outlying areas to obtain food, a shower, heat and in some cases a cot to sleep on.
The lights may be on downtown, but the crisis isn’t over.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Trout said. “We’ve still got a lot of people in the outlying areas without power, so we need to keep helping them out and keep working together.”