Ronda Roman wasn’t just thinking about herself when she was shopping in on Tuesday afternoon. She had 17 other people to think of.
The Sutherlin resident was in Roseburg with two of her family members shopping for items to get them through the Douglas County power outage that by then had stretched into its third day.
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, approximately 18,026 Pacific Power customers in central Douglas County were still without power thanks to one of the area’s strongest snowstorms in recent memory. That’s down from more than 31,000 when power outages were first reported early Sunday night.
Roman, who said they’d received no updates about when power and heat will return, opted to be proactive and prepare for a long-term power outage. That’s why she was in Roseburg with her daughter, Korina Wolfe, with a propane camping stove in their shopping cart ready to purchase.
“We just want to be able to cook something, and ... we have to be prepared because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Roman said. “We had food in the refrigerator but when we opened it, it stinks. Everything is gone. The milk and juice for the kids, all of that is in the snow so it can stay cold.”
Roman, who has wood heat in her home, took in her children and grandchildren and “found room” for all of them. She was one of many area residents finding ways to cope with a snowstorm that has paralyzed many local communities.
One foot of snowfall was measured at the Roseburg Regional Airport on Monday, and the National Weather Service called for a Winter Storm Warning effective through 10 a.m. Wednesday with overnight accumulations of up to 4 inches of snow. That snow had turned to a steady rain south of Roseburg on Wednesday morning.
The weight of the heavy snowfall, once it accumulated, uprooted trees and broke saturated and brittle oak-tree limbs, causing structural damage throughout the area. Snow shovels were scarce, so locals instead used regular shovels and squeegees to clear snow from walkways and driveways.
Roads were also blocked — some by heavy snow and some by downed trees or tree limbs. A part of Winston Section Road, thanks to the rain and snowfall that has pounded the area since the weekend, was flooded with water and impassable to some vehicles.
Power crews from Douglas Electric and Pacific Power worked throughout the day to restore electricity to homes. Those who didn’t have a regular roof over their head, however, made the best of their situation.
“This stuff was here, so I figured I could make the best use of it,” said 35-year-old Raymond Rodriguez, a ranch hand who works in Melrose but doesn’t have a permanent address.
Early Tuesday afternoon, right before another steady snowfall began, he planned to hunker down at the Stewart Park pavilion where dried firewood was ready for use. Later on, he planned to go to the Roseburg Dream Center, which serves as a warming house for homeless people in the area — many of whom weren’t as lucky as Rodriguez.
“I know some people who had their tents swamped under because of the rising river,” he said.
Other people took time and made sure to enjoy the snow. Plenty of snow forts and snowmen dotted the neighborhood landscapes, even in the front yards of houses that included palm trees. Many school districts proactively canceled school or Wednesday by early Tuesday afternoon.
Umpqua Community College students Connor Ferber and Kyler Leischner took time to go snowboarding down the hills at Stewart Park on Tuesday. Both hail from Glide, though Leischner said he got used to snowfall levels similar to what Douglas County has received when he lived in Bend.
He admitted, however, this recent snowstorm took him by surprise. Ferber concurred.
“We just got our power turned back on about 3 hours ago, so we’re lucky,” Ferber said. “This snowstorm? Man. No one was prepared for this at all.”