5:30 pm – Monday March 18, 2019
Crews have restored another 131 individual residences since yesterday, leaving 159 members without power. The areas where you will find most of the crews at this point are Territorial Hwy, Upper Smith River and Loon Lake. We have extended lodging for our contract crews, and will continue to do so as long as necessary.
To date, crews have replaced over 250 broken poles, 60 transformers, and over 300 crossarms. Crews have removed hundreds of trees from the lines and installed over 50 miles of power line. They have repaired six river crossings and 5 transmission canyon crossings. Over 87 members have needed repairs to their meter bases and weather heads. All of this… so far.
6:30 pm – Sunday March 17, 2019
As the crews attack Loon Lake, Upper Smith River, the areas surrounding Curtin and other scattered locations, the weather is very conducive to steady progress. Our second car/pole accident in a week, and a logging operation brought down poles and wire that had just been rebuilt. Some days it’s two steps forward and one step back. These setbacks obviously delay the restoration process for our members.
We continue to have poles, equipment and materials shipped in to complete this job and all of the cleanup and repairs to come. We have experienced absolutely no delays in this restoration process, as necessary materials and the crews we have continue to be perfectly balanced.
The count stands at 290, which means we have rebuilt and repaired almost 97% of our system.
7:00 pm – Saturday March 16, 2019
Today presented a perfect opportunity to visit the crews and witness first-hand, the challenges they are facing. In one of the photos attached, Linemen Tyson Olds and Morrie Roberts prepare a newly-planted pole for service. Along with Lineman Nathan Robbins, excavator Jeff Wells and a crew from Jensen’s, necessary equipment was installed, a transformer elevated and bolted to the top, and the service drop was secured… that will eventually bring electricity back to one home on Buck Creek Rd. It is literally “one by one” as they address the area hardest hit by the storm.
In another photo, crew members from International Line Builders prepare to replace one of many broken poles on Bear Creek Rd. Our members have never experienced an outage that has gone on for this long, but the reason why is evident along both sides of these roads.
With these beautiful, sunny, spring days, there is little trace remaining of the snowstorm that rocked this county a few short weeks ago. The curves along I-5 south of Pass Creek look like a logging show. Not tree after tree, but rather groups and groups of downed trees. The scene is identical on the side roads no matter what exit you take. The amount of dry tinder laying on the ground come fire season could be a concern.
The third photo is simply our version of “Where’s Waldo”. Locate our power poles, and imagine how our crews are accessing and replacing those damaged in the storm. It’s a heavy lift, and our crews continue to work efficiently, safely and as quickly as they can.
Our count stands at 358 members without electricity. By days end, crews will again have energized just under a hundred homes.
8:00 pm – Friday, March 15, 2019
Crews had another great day to work as they sawed, cleared, repaired, replaced and connected just under 200 individual services. And the day is not over. As various crews are finishing up in other areas, they are being sent to join crews in the north county and Loon Lake parts of the service territory. This area was hit the hardest by the storm and there is a great deal of work to do before services are ultimately energized. It will continue to be a slow process, but members are happy to see crews in their neighborhood.
There is no let up until the last service is energized. The shifts are the same and the DEC crews are looking forward to getting back to 10-hour days when this is over. From a “news” perspective, we are getting very close to being irrelevant. And to every Co-op member, lineman, tree trimmer, excavator, flagger, staff person and everyone else involved in this restoration effort… that‘s just fine with us. Having said that, the media coverage has been absolutely wonderful and greatly appreciated.
The count stands at 439 (4.87%), members still without power.
Photo by Maxwell Bean
7:00 pm – Thursday March 14, 2019
Well it’s slow-going as we anticipated it would be. Our crews and contract crews continue to address these outages with the same force as when they began, but we are literally now talking house to house. Motel stays have been extended and the crews are still hitting it hard. Again, we aren’t talking neighborhoods, but rather an average of 6 consumers for every mile of powerline.
Equipment, power poles and other materials continue to come in from all over. We are sending the trucks out with all the equipment they need to do the job. Warehouseman, Rob Hill has been extremely resourceful in locating and securing the supplies needed. At no time have we run out of poles or equipment.
The amount of time to complete this restoration is unprecedented. The amount damage caused by the worst storm in Douglas Electric’s 81-year history is also unprecedented. Traveling areas like Lookingglass Road and Melqua Road present an accurate snapshot of the damage. But it pales in comparison to the damage this storm caused in the most remote areas of Douglas County. Our members have been overwhelmingly positive and understanding of the situation, and certainly focusing on being prepared for possible future events.
The day began with 816 members without power. Our current count is 621 members remaining to have their power restored.
8:15 pm – Wednesday, March 13, 2019
I was delaying this update so I could make my prediction of less than 10% come true. We currently stand at 918 members left to energize and that equates to 10.19% of the system. It may change by the time I’m done writing this.
The Restoration Forecast map has been updated. As of tomorrow, with the exception of Loon Lake, Upper Smith River and London Mountain, we are estimating that most all other areas are one day away from having their power restored. When we start to get this specific, predictions have a tendency to backfire on us, but we are pretty confident that by the end of the day Friday, most all will have power. The other exceptions continue to be those who have equipment (meter base) damage. To clarify those situations, we won’t wait until the repairs are “green tagged” by the state electrical inspector to energize the system, a “Letter of Connect” from the electrician will suffice. As soon as we have that document in-house, we can proceed.
Damage assessments continue to accumulate. To date we have replaced 186 broken power poles, cut 121 trees off the lines, installed 210 cross-arms and related equipment, replaced 31 transformers, repaired 7 river crossings, discovered 65 damaged services (meter bases) and strung 623 spans of wire. An average span runs 350 feet and translates into roughly 41 miles… so far.
10:00 pm – Tuesday March 12, 2019
Well today certainly ended better than it began. After restoring power to Reston Road yesterday, a car/pole accident occurred late last night, taking out the new pole and downing the powerlines once again. Crews were able to repair the damage and restore power this afternoon. We have not received word on the status of the driver.
In the Yoncalla area, a log truck snagged a low-hanging communications wire, wrapping it around the truck and taking our pole and wire down with it. A small fire ensued, but the truck driver was not injured. Power was later restored to Yoncalla. (Nobody in this office dares ask, “What could possibly happen next?”)
Power was restored to the Larson Road area in addition to other small pockets, bringing the number without to 1,087 or 12% of our system. All crews remain and will continue to work in favorable weather conditions tomorrow to help those in their 17th day without electricity.
Finally, many stories from all of the communities we serve have been shared concerning people helping people, preparedness or lack thereof, and what will be learned from this experience. We got to hear and witness what it means to live and survive in a community where selfless acts of kindness are abundant. Douglas Electric Board Chairman, Evan Barnes, along with General Manager Keith Brooks and Assistant Manager, Phil Bigler attended a meeting of the Lookingglass Grange this evening. Grange members shared their own experiences and ideas about what could, and should be done in the future, in the event of another disaster. Better communication and coordination of services topped the list. Some in attendance were still without power, but all were extremely grateful for the job our crews are doing. We fully expect to be under 10% tomorrow.
7:45 am – Tuesday March 12, 2019
After finally restoring power to the Reston Road area yesterday, a driver ran into a recently replaced pole, taking it down and that section of the system with it. Crews will again be working on that today to get power restored.
The Elkton to Scottsburg lines were energized last evening. Anyone west of Elkton who is still without power is encouraged to call our outage hotline at 1-888-420-8826.
It’s important to keep in mind that as the numbers decrease, that translates to individual outages needing to be addressed. In other words instead of addressing an area that serves 103 members, we are working on areas that maybe serve three… or even one. That process will be slower, but we are still hoping to have the vast majority of our membership back on by the end of this week.
We continue to appreciate and be amazed at the encouragement our employees are receiving from those members who are still without power.
7:30 pm – Monday March 11, 2019
Elkton to Scottsburg has been energized. Crews completed the main transmission line ahead of schedule and those communities now have power. Since the fiber connection is down and we can’t update the web map electronically, our “old school” calculations predict about 410 members have been restored. Subtracting that number from the 1,739 listed on the website, takes us down to approximately 1,329 members still without power.
Work continued in other areas across the county, with the exception of London Mountain and Upper Smith River. Road access is still an issue there and consequently keeping us from repairing damage and restoring power.
We experienced a blip this afternoon when a tree fell against the transmission lines in north county, slapping the wires together. Members in the Yoncalla, Oakland, Sutherlin areas were affected, but the problem was discovered and power restored shortly after.
Carisa Hettich, Executive Director for the American Red Cross – Southwest Oregon Chapter, shared that Red Cross volunteers have been serving dinner to about 100 people in Elkton every evening. Those amazing efforts will come to a close sooner than expected as consumers return to their homes, now having the ability to prepare their own meals for the first time in a couple of weeks. She said it was heart-warming to see the community coming together, with members encouraging and helping each other.
We look forward to seeing the number of members without power continuing to drop every day. In the meantime, our employees are receiving a great deal of positive feedback from our members, including some still without power. Thank you for that, it is greatly appreciated.
Photo courtesy of Brenda Hescock
1:20 pm - Monday March 11, 2019
We are currently experiencing a loss of transmission in north county. Both BPA and our crews are searching for the cause.
8:15 pm – Sunday March 10, 2019
While the numbers didn’t materialize, no matter how hard we wished it to get below 2,000, there was a great deal of work accomplished and the updated map reflects that. Another good-weather day certainly helped.
Three areas in particular remained the same with regard to the forecast. We are having delays in both Upper Smith River and London Mountain areas due to road closures and they are consequently inaccessible. Of all the initial road closures and debris to clean up, which prevented us from accessing our damaged equipment, only these two remain. When that is cleared up, we will begin restoration efforts in those areas. (I apologize for the tireless use of the word “area”. But we don’t have much in the way of cities and neighborhoods to reference.)
Most of the “1 Week” areas have turned into “1, 2 or 3 days”. Hogan Road and Curtin are the exceptions as there is simply more work to do there. This is the portion of the county hit hardest by the storm. We have gotten a little more specific with regard to roads since we can at this point, and it provides our members with a more specific time frame with which to plan. Our hope is that we have most everyone up and running by the end of the week.
As noted at the bottom of the map, consumers who have damaged meter bases must have them repaired by an electrician and “green tagged” by the state electrical inspector before we can energize the service. Not having this done when we show up on the property will delay power restoration.
We expect big things tomorrow, and we know there are many members who hope so too.
9:15 am – Sunday March 10, 2019
As of now, we are flirting with breaking the 2,000 mark. We stand at 2,087, which in the ordinary scheme of things, would be a significant power outage for us. Another sunny day should help the crews keep the momentum going.
As we are approaching individual properties and residences, we are finding locked gates that are hindering our efforts to restore power to those areas. Gates with locks should have our DEC lock in sequence with theirs to allow us access for maintenance and emergency situations like this one. We prefer not to cut chains, so an individual keeping us at bay with a locked gate will be delayed in having his electricity restored.
I can’t squelch all of the misinformation and rumors out there, but for the sake of our members, we have not run out of poles. WE have however, gone beyond the northwest and received the last shipment from Reno Nevada.
The restoration forecast map will be updated this evening, but I will report additional progress as the day goes on.
7:45 pm – Saturday March 9, 2019
First and foremost there are still many who are in need of assistance and others who have experienced a tremendous amount of damage and loss from the February 24, storm. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release on Thursday, encouraging those who have suffered damage to go to http://dcso.com/storm/ and complete a form, even if the damage has been repaired. While there is no guarantee of reimbursement, Douglas County officials are attempting to wrap their arms around the economic cost of this storm as they apply for FEMA funding.
For those needing assistance with basic needs, the Douglas County Community Organizations Active in Disasters (DCCOAD) in partnership with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office is encouraging people to go to https://roseburgdisaster.recovers.org/ .This website is both for individuals who need assistance, as well as those who want to offer assistance. Understandably, and for obvious reasons, many do not have access to the internet. For others who do, please share this resource with anyone in need of assistance.
Numbers at this time are 2,502 and tomorrow should be another productive day with crews working in favorable weather conditions. Rest assured, no crews have been released, only re-assigned to other areas as they move through the territory.
3:15 pm – Saturday March 9, 2019
While there isn’t much movement in the numbers, crews are taking full advantage of this weather to accomplish a great deal. It does however, make it even more frustrating for those still without power as the storm becomes a distant memory. The extent of the damage caused by that storm is still difficult to grasp. The fact that much of it occurred where people seldom travel makes it even more difficult to convey. The sunshine today is helping our crews, but not our members who are still without. Pictures help us share the mud bog conditions our trucks are encountering, in addition to the river crossings, tree trimming, pole replacements and other restoration challenges, but it’s of little consolation to our members trying to exist without electricity. It’s a sunny day, the snow’s almost gone and the lights should be on. Nobody wants that more than us.
The count stands around 2,658 or 29% of our system. There are very few large pockets left to bring on and now it’s expanding to the outer reaches. That’s not to say the extremely remotes areas, but rather the roads and neighborhoods. Those who have been anxious to see utility vehicles on their streets and at there homes, will now begin to see a presence. Many members have been generous in expressing just how much they appreciate the linemen who are trying to help them. Some have even offered to do their laundry. People continue to help people.
7:00 pm – Friday March 8, 2019
Not much movement in the numbers today and there is a reason. Picking up transmission and distribution feeders enabled us to pick up pockets of members. As we get closer to our individual residential members, the process of energizing these locations almost becomes one by one. Not to say we are done with the high wires, we aren’t, but we’re starting to transition. As we have shared, Douglas Electric serves an average of 6 consumers for every mile of distribution line. By comparison, Eugene Water and Electric Board serves 81 consumers for every mile of line. Douglas serves an average of 105 consumers for every mile of transmission line. EWEB serves an average of 720. We are spread out, and that takes time.
The updated map today showed progress, particularly in the southern part of our service territory. With the exception of locations like Loon Lake and London Mountain, some time frames that were weeks, turned into days. Questions have been asked as to why the Camas Valley area was restored first. The answer is simple. Unlike the storm of 2011 where Camas was hit hardest, it was the least affected by this particular storm. (Photos attached.)
Earlier I addressed damaged meter bases at the home and the need for repair before service can be energized. I have attached a graphic that shows what parts, if damaged, will need attention. It is the homeowner’s responsibility and contacting an electrician as soon as possible is advised. To date, we have discovered 30 such cases. There will be nothing more disappointing than having the lineman come to a residence and then be unable to restore power.
Updates will continue all weekend to report progress made. As I said previously, nobody is going anywhere until this thing is over.
1:30 pm – Friday March 8, 2019
I have attached the map showing our latest estimates for restoration of power in our service territory. This of course, will be updated this weekend as well… nobody here is going anywhere.
It’s encouraging to break some areas down into days, and eliminate others altogether. Under normal circumstances, an outage lasting days would be unique and considered lengthy and very rare here. This storm has given us a different perspective. Understandably, members seeing their locations still 1.5 to 2 weeks away are very frustrated. A sample of what our crews encountered after this storm is also attached. The picture from Jensen’s Tree Service is in fact, worth a thousand words.
As we move from transmission lines and distribution feeders into residences, it’s important to note that consumers with generators that do not have back-feed protection are an incredible safety hazard to our linemen. Feeding electricity into the grid when our folks are working to repair lines presents a very dangerous situation. Hopefully, generators have been installed properly and this will not be an issue.
Also, if there is damage to the weatherhead or meter base on your home, this will need to be repaired and “green tagged” before we can energize your home. Electricians are difficult to find these days so calling now would be a good idea.
I’m sure there are other details and I will follow-up, but I wanted to get this map into your hands. Thanks so much!
8:45 pm – Thursday, March 07, 2019
We have been repeatedly sharing the need for transmission repairs as it is the first piece of the puzzle. Nothing gets to the substation until there is power flowing in these lines. In addition to rebuilding and repairing transmission, substations and distribution also need to be operating. Nothing gets to the home until there is uninterrupted electricity flowing through distribution feeders. This is the natural order of priority. Lastly, damage to lines serving residences is addressed and the process is complete. We are now beginning the process of addressing those individual outages, and restoration time depends on the severity of the damage our crews encounter.
Today, crews picked up most of Camas Valley and Tenmile, along with parts of Melrose. They are getting close to completing that section. They will then be dispersed to assist other crews in other areas. A creative engineering solution brought the lights back on in the city of Elkton. The crews continue to construct a transmission line to Elkton, at which point the outskirts can be addressed. In the meantime, crews are working on those areas so they can be prepared for when the power starts flowing through the new line. The number of members without power stands at 2,954 this evening. The restoration map will be updated tomorrow.
I have attached a couple of photos that show some of the conditions our crews continue to face. They are incorporating whatever means necessary to get to the problem areas, including construction of a makeshift bridge to get over a stream.
4:40 pm – Thursday March 7, 2019
It’s holding! The City of Elkton is having their power restored little by little. All of the engineering efforts, checks and double checks, and commitment to getting it done is paying off. The switch was thrown about 3:55 pm and so far so good. Again, this applies to the city proper, outlying areas will take a little longer until we complete construction of the transmission line serving it.
2:00 pm – Thursday March 7, 2019
As hoped, progress is being made today as Camas Valley/Tenmile areas, along with parts of Melrose have been restored. Those parts of our service territory were not impacted nearly as much as the northern portion. The number of members still without power sits at 3,529, approximately a thousand less than where we stood yesterday.
In the Elkton area, where all three of our transmission options were trashed, we are about to attempt something we’ve never done before. In an effort to get creative and think outside the box, Douglas Electric’s engineer has been working with engineers from Consumers Power to create a temporary solution. In essence, we will be attempting to energize the City of Elkton using distribution lines instead of transmission lines. Over the last few days, engineers and crews have been calculating, studying, verifying and building what will hopefully be a solution to the challenge we face. It will be a temporary solution until transmission construction is completed. Attached is a picture of the voltage regulator that was constructed, framed, racked and installed. There is a great deal of brainpower and manpower involved in this temporary solution, and we are optimistic that it will completely dissolve our previous 2.5 week estimate for restoration. Efforts to energize will take place this afternoon, so we will know the outcome very soon. To be clear, this involves the City of Elkton and not the outskirts. Efforts continue in those areas as well.
An update will be forthcoming as more members’ power is restored and the results of the Elkton project are known. More to follow.
First and foremost, I continue to be so amazed and grateful for our partners in the media. Everyone will be recognized when this is all said and done, but I need to give props to KPNW’s Holloway & Lundun. A number of folks were calling into their show this morning with both positive and negative comments. Others however, were sharing things that were absolutely false. They gave me the opportunity to provide both an update of our current outage status, and also set the record straight on the untruths that were being spoken. This event is tough enough without individuals presenting opinions as facts. Thank you for that opportunity. All of our media friends continue to work extremely well with us to keep our members informed.
We’re not wanting to raise false hopes, but we are looking for real progress tomorrow. Our hope is that Camas Valley will be energized tomorrow. The transmission line has been repaired and there a couple of other areas that need attention, but we are fairly confident in our prediction. Included in that will be the Tenmile area as well. Parts of Melrose, particularly in the San Souci area, are also expected to be energized tomorrow.
As I learn more from our linemen and contract crews, it’s also becoming evident to me that our map will need to be adjusted again tomorrow… and in a positive way. I look forward to sharing some good news for a change tomorrow.
3:30 pm – Wednesday, March 6, 2019
While the numbers haven’t improved as much as any of us would like so far today, it just reflects the parts of our system the crews continue to work on. We are not in members’ driveways yet. Transmission lines, substations and distribution still need to be repaired before residences can be addressed. If there is no damage to be repaired between a residence and the substation that serves them, service will be restored faster when that substation is energized. If there is considerable damage, then the process takes longer. Many folks, while very understanding, are frustrated because they don’t see utility vehicles in their area. The reason is simple, they are working upline so they can make it to the local areas. Repairing an individual service accomplishes nothing if there are problems “upline”… and we have plenty.
As much information as we have been supplying, it means nothing to many until their lights come on. Our Operations Superintendent is still without power at his home. It’s a mess there, and we’ll get there eventually to clean that up. “Pick Up Sticks” is how our crews are referring to it. Even with all of the damage that is clearly evident from this storm, it’s still not enough to satisfy someone going home to a cold, dark house. They want their lights on, and they want them on now. What’s not clearly evident to most is the amount of destruction that has taken place where one must hike, Snow-Cat or fly in to access and repair the damage. And accessibility remains a challenge.
Our hope is that we get to bring more folks on by this evening. We added another couple of crews, and we promise that nobody is leaving until we get this buttoned up. We appreciate the many co-op members and community members who even without power, are sharing encouragement and support for the crews.
8:30 pm - Tuesday March 5, 2019
You will notice that the map is significantly different from yesterday’s version, and in a very positive way. It has been updated to reflect the progress crews are making. As we get deeper and deeper into repair and reconstruction, we are able to drill down a little more specifically with time frames. This is one area where I don’t mind being wrong. If we finish sooner than our estimate, we’ll accept that kind of mistake all day long. Our count stands around 4,400 members without power, and we are pretty encouraged to see how we can improve on that number in the next 24 hours.
Not much more to report this evening as the map tells the story, but I need to give a shout out to the media. From Portland to Eugene and Roseburg, Coos Bay, Ashland and everywhere in between… television, radio and newspaper media people have been fantastic. Whether it’s been face to face or chatting on the phone, every single person I have had the pleasure of dealing with has been cordial, professional and absolutely nailing it when the information is broadcast or printed. They are such a crucial part of the solution in getting as much information out to our members as we can. Thank you for continuing to be a joy to work with.
3:30 – Tuesday – March 5, 2019
The best start to this day came when a linemen approached me about 5:30 this morning. He had seen the timeframes on my “Restoration Forecast” map, said, “Oh, we can do better than that.” It’s not that we underestimate our crews, it’s just that it’s nice to be reminded how focused and efficient they are when building and repairing structures. They are more than up to the challenge. The number of members without power is hovering around 4,600.
It’s important to know that all of the pieces are working well together. We are receiving equipment and supplies daily from all over the northwest. From Pacific Power to Umatilla Electric to General Pacific in Portland and a host of other vendors and electric utilities, our crews are able to stay equipped with everything they need to do their job. Our hope, since other utilities are also dealing with supply shortages after the storm, is that the flow continues. Having too many crews and not enough supplies would be a waste of important talent. So far, the balance is working, and the crews are making progress.
Some consumers continue to be anxious and frustrated, and that’s understandable. Most realize the severity of the event and are researching any resources that might be available to help them through it. We are intent on getting everyone’s heat, lights, water pumps and refrigeration back on as soon as we can.
The timeframe map will be updated with this evening’s release.
8:15 pm – Monday - March 04, 2019
While the numbers don’t show a great deal of progress today, crews worked steadily to get the system back in service. As we continue to assess the damage, we are estimating that roughly 80% of our efforts are going to repairs, while 20% involve rebuilds. These are strictly ballpark numbers, but specifically they reflect replacing broken poles, stringing new power lines, and in the less severe cases, clearing trees off the wires. The work that many see alongside the road is of course less intensive and laborious than the crews having to hike into the off-road problem areas. Easier access translates to quicker repairs.
Occasionally we receive feedback from members about not seeing Douglas Electric trucks in the neighborhoods. Keep in mind, we have so many contractors working alongside our crews, that if you see any type of utility truck at this point, it’s a sure bet that they are working with a Douglas Electric lineman. Because we have so many contractors who are unfamiliar with our service territory, we have divided our crews and placed one member with each contractor or group of contractors. It is significantly more efficient than trying to direct someone in and around our 2,200 square miles of service territory.
The number of members coming into the Douglas Electric office is as we expected, and certainly more traffic than usual. But the attitudes are of tremendous patience and understanding. We realize the frustration and desire for information and answers, and they understand that we are working as hard as we can. The ability to give specific restoration time frames for specific residences is still impossible. In the meantime, we are witnessing members helping members who are just trying to exist in these miserable conditions. This is a member-owned cooperative where the vast majority of consumers value rural life, and understand and appreciate the rewards and challenges that come along with it.
From the inside, we see progress. Soon it will become clearly evident to our members as well. As you view the map, there are subtle changes, but our goal is to eventually turn all weeks into days.
11:30 am – Monday March 4, 2019
We have run into a situation that has become both dangerous and counterproductive. Motorists and individuals are constantly approaching our line crews along the sides of the roads where they are working. This is creating a dangerous situation for everyone involved. In addition, it is slowing down the restoration process.
While we understand the thirst for information, it is delaying the process and putting both individuals in danger. Our linemen are not resources for information, they are simply trying to repair damage. Any time taken away from that means it will take longer to get everyone’s light back on. Please utilize the many media outlets for updated information.
The horn-honking and “thumbs up” are great appreciated, but we are encouraging everyone to please let our crews do their jobs. Thank you for understanding.
8:30 pm – Sunday, March 3, 2019
Crews were able to work under favorable weather conditions again today, and have brought the count down to 4,900 members without power. We have added an additional two crews released by Pacific Power. With so many helping us to restore the power, our concern turns to supplies. Our Operations Department is coordinating efforts with the warehousemen to search far and wide for poles, wire and other equipment necessary to complete restoration. Many affected by the storm, such as Lane Electric Cooperative, are in the same situation. This will be an ongoing effort, as running out of supplies is not an option.
The attached map will be updated daily. The addition of crews is reflected today. Our goal is to keep you apprised of the location of our workers as they move around, and how that translates to the estimation forecast and elimination of circles altogether.
11:30 am – Sunday March 3, 2019
Crews are continuing to energize substations, with the Tenmile sub being the most recent. From there, clearing of the distribution lines is taking place… lots of clearing. To re-emphasize, we are talking about thousands of trees, hundreds of poles and miles of powerlines on the ground. As Pacific Power begins to release some of their contract crews today. We will be adding some of them to ours.
As many consumers are possibly aware, we typically have more than one way to serve a particular area. In the midst of a normal outage, we can often isolate the problem area and reroute power from a different source. In other words we can do some “switching”. It’s what’s known in the industry as redundancy. For instance, we have three different options to feed Elkton… all are down. Redundancy in our service territory is currently non-existent. This adds to the already complicated process of restoring power. In this devastated state, all of our safety valves and options are gone. It is a part of why this will take so long.
We had been hovering in the 6,000s for a long time and are now down around 5,300 members without power. Progress, slowly but surely, continues to be made.
8:15 pm – Saturday March 2, 2019
Many have asked where the crews are working and what kind of time frame are we estimating. The map below should help answer those questions. The map reflects areas, time frames and location of crews, but it’s important to point out that we are referencing system restoration. Individual residences could take longer. We are fairly confident that as we begin going house to house, the damage will be equally severe and in need of repair.
Of equal importance during these frustrating times, is to realize that witnessing a crew leaving the area without power having been restored, only means that they are moving on to another damaged area on the same line. It’s a helpless feeling, but all part of the restoration process.
To sum up the damage, we have seen thousands of downed trees, hundreds of broken poles and miles of wire laying on the ground. I have also attached a couple of photos taken by one of our engineering stakers, Matt Yates.
We continue to ask and thank everyone for their patience. We also ask drivers to be on the lookout for flaggers and utility personnel on the side of the road. We all need to get through this safely.
Saturday – 1:30 pm – March 2, 2019
Our crews, combined with crews from Douglas County and ODOT, continue to cut and dig their way into the incredibly damaged areas of the county. Their efforts are producing re-opened roads and accessibility in many areas. What they are revealing is complete devastation. Trees too numerous to count have brought down an incredible amount of our system. Some areas can be repaired while others will need to be rebuilt. Our thirty foot right-of-way clearing zone does little when the eighty foot firs from outside of our allowed area come crashing down. Trees on wires, we can deal with. Trees taking out complete sections of poles and wires is a different story. Frankly, our hope and concern is that we continue to receive supplies needed to fix the system.
During outages, we are commonly compared to Pacific Power. (With whom we have a great relationship.) Invariably, power is restored to their customers much quicker than our members are energized. The reason is simple, our service territories couldn’t be more different. Pacific serves the more metro, heavily populated areas of the county. When help is needed, neighbors are close by. When power is restored, it is restored in neighborhoods and city blocks. In our service territory, many folks don’t even have neighbors. We average 6 consumers for every mile of power line, in the most densely forested areas of our county. For this reason, it necessitates that our members be prepared and self-sufficient as they are often on their own. In times like these, everyone needs to help everyone.
This point will be emphasized when you view the attached restoration forecast. Until now, it has been impossible to know the extent of the damage. The forecast is a rough estimate and will be adjusted as progress is made. Bottom line, consumers in these areas need to prepare to be without power for quite some time. Crews are on the job doing the best they can.
8:30 pm – Friday February 28
The good news of the day is the restoration of power to Mt. Scott. Mt. Scott is the key to communications that are so vital in responding to an event like this one. As there are so many organizations working together, there is no room for inefficiencies due to poor communication. That’s progress for us today… and we’ll take it.
With the sunshine and weather clearing up, the roads are becoming much easier to navigate. Unfortunately it also means that people are driving faster… much faster. Even though much of our work is being done off-road, we still have a tremendous number of crews and trucks repairing equipment along the roads. We do have flaggers in place, but we would ask that for the safety of the people trying to restore power to everyone, please slow down. We are far from “business as usual” when it comes to driving the highways and streets.
Updates will continue through the weekend. Thank you!
1:15 pm - Friday February 28
I had a wonderful newspaper journalist ask me this morning, “What went wrong and what went right with this event?” It’s a great question as it creates an opportunity to explain what’s going on. What went wrong was the unexpected heavy snowstorm and the manner in which it has physically devastated this city and county. The evidence is everywhere you look, and it’s safe to say that no one was adequately prepared for it. There really isn’t much more to add.
What is going right is the incredible, collaborative effort of the utilities and government agencies working to dig us out of this mess. Douglas Electric, Pacific Power and other utilities continue to work with Douglas County, ODOT, the cities and a giant number of outside contractors to get roads open, electricity restored and communications back up and running. As mentioned earlier, Douglas Electric now has over twice as many electric utility contractors, tree crews, flaggers and excavators as we have normal employees. Many crews are working 40-hour shifts before they get a rest period. As we cycle crews in and out to give them a little rest, others come on board. This outage is being worked 24 hours a day.
It is difficult to comprehend the amount of damage until you get into the heart of our service territory, and trust me, it’s not pretty. Yesterday we chartered a helicopter to survey the transmission lines, including areas west of Elkton and toward the coast. What the inspection revealed is the necessity to fly wire and poles in to essentially re-create parts of the transmission system. Our right-of way is clean and well-maintained, but trees falling on our lines outside the right of way have brought structures down in almost three feet of snow. That is not a quick fix.
As far as restoration goes, we are between 6,000-7,000 without power. The process remains the same; transmission first and then on to distribution. We encourage members to take advantage of any family or friends who have power until we get things back on. At this time we are not giving any estimates as to when and where that might be. We thank everyone for trying to understand.
8:45 pm – Thursday February 28, 2019
As hoped, our crews were able to bring on pockets of members in the course of the day, and continue to work all night. Our count is now in the 6,000s where we had been looking at 9,000+ without power for way too long. As mentioned before, we have twice as many contract crews as we do regular employees, working along side us to repair the incredible damage left in this storm’s wake.
Governor Brown has declared a State of Emergency for Douglas and other counties, which opens the door to possible FEMA funding. This is good news as restoration is going to be a very expensive effort when all is said and one.
So far, wire and replacement poles have been arriving almost as fast as they have been leaving the yard. We certainly hope that continues. As you might suspect, other utilities affected by the storm are needing these supplies as well.
Our crews, alongside a large number of contractors, tree trimmers, excavators and flaggers continue to would tirelessly to get power restored.
12:30 pm – Thursday February 28, 2019
While our crews, tree crews and excavators continue their work to restore power, another extremely high priority is being addressed as well; communications. Power to Mt. Scott has been interrupted making it difficult for Douglas County, Douglas Electric crews and many others to communicate. Signal Tree, southwest of Roseburg, houses transmission equipment that powers area television stations. Many have standby generators in place, but some of those have failed, making it even more crucial to get power restored.
Progress continues in small portions, but the devastation is unlike anything we have ever seen in this county. Without witnessing it first hand over our 2,200 sq miles of rural service territory, it’s understandable that many of our members are getting anxious. We continue to ask for their patience, and know that crews are doing incredible things in extremely rough terrain. This is much more than stringing line on the side of the road. We serve the most rural parts of our county, and our crews are literally working over the rivers and through the woods.
8:30 am - Thursday February 28
As reported last evening, the Lookingglass substation was energized, allowing us to restore power to parts of that area and parts of Melrose. Crews will be branching out from there to repair areas that are accessible. The Drain substation was energized around 2:00 am this morning, bringing back the City of Drain and the same work to extend restoration will continue from there. Douglas County has done a great job of clearing and opening roads, increasing accessibility for our crews.
At this point, we have almost twice as many contract employees as we do regular DEC employees working this outage. They deserve to be mentioned: Central Lincoln PUD, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, International Line Builders, Jensen’s Tree Service, Cache Valley Electric, Key Line Construction, Benzel Excavators and Jeff Wells Excavation. Jensen’s is also providing an excavator. Coordinating, feeding and housing these contractors is part of the logistic challenge we are encountering. Coordination of these issues is going very well. Our appreciation for the assistance goes without saying.
Our goal today, taking full advantage of this break in the weather, will be to energize as many distribution feeders and restoring as many pockets of members as possible. Getting to the individual consumers is still quite a ways off, but we are making progress and the crews, inside and other outside employees are working incredibly hard.
9:00 PM February 27th - Pacific Power has energized the transmission lines to our Lookingglass substation. Crews are now able to begin the process of restoring various feeders… the next step in the process. Please keep in mind that the road ahead is long, but people whose power comes from that station will begin to see their power restored.
In north county, BPA is estimating the Drain substation to be energized around 10:00 pm this evening. The City of Drain and surrounding areas will, similar to the Lookingglass situation, begin to see some power restored.
Please keep in mind, our estimates remain the same. It will be a long process as we wade through the havoc this storm produced. The transmission feeds we have been waiting for are a great start. Now we continue the process of making the damaged areas accessible to crews. Speaking of which, we have additional crews coming in tomorrow and are grateful to have found motel rooms for them in Sutherlin.
Crew Request - Members of our crews would like to extend a "thank you" to neighbors and friends who are assisting and caring for their spouses and families during this time. We have heard reports from meals and warmth to getting horses back in the corral. It is greatly appreciated, and our crews just wanted you to know. Our co-op members rock! Thank you!
1:30 PM - February 27
This is more of a status report than an update. The two major issues our crews face currently is accessibility and transmission.
To begin, we have tree trimming crews working with ODOT (Hwy 38 still closed) and our crews to gain access with an incredible number of downed trees. Highways, roads and driveways are littered with downed power lines and broken poles. The process is slow and arduous. Our crews, and a number of outside contract utility crews brought in everywhere from Central Lincoln PUD to Oregon Trail Electric Co-op are making repairs where they can. Housing and feeding these crews so they can safely work long shifts is also a challenge given area motels are either full or without power.
Transmission from Bonneville Power into the area (Drain substation) is a waiting game as they have experienced their own issues. Pacific Power, which feeds our Lookingglass substation have thousands without power as well. Once these lines begin delivering power to us, we will be able to pick up a good portion of our members. After that, our distribution feeders will be next and that will take longer. Eventually, the individual scattered outages will be addressed and restored. For some it will be hours, others will take days, and for members in the more remoted areas, it could take at least a week. In the meantime, our crews repair what is accessible to bring as many people on as possible. Again, they are on the job 24 hours, getting some rest and food when they can.
Everyone, understandably, would like to know how long it is going to be before their power will be restored. Many are concerned because they may not see any trucks in their area. Rest assured, crews are out there working as safely and efficiently as they can. Many of them, off-road where much of our system is accessible only on foot.
We will continue to alert you when progress is being made. To date, Rice Hill, parts of Yoncalla and the Reedsport/Gardner areas have been restored. More to come! Thank you so much for your patience and understanding.
7:00 AM – We have recovered some transmission power and currently, the Pilot at Rice Hill, as well as some of the immediate area, has been restored. In addition, the Oak Hills Golf course and the surrounding area has been restored. Now that we have some transmission power restored, crews can begin clearing feeders to get more of our members back on. Until the trees, limbs, broken poles, and downed lines are repaired, power cannot be restored to the homes and businesses at the end of those lines. Again, please do not attempt to clear any lines yourself or approach any downed lines, you will place yourself in extreme danger doing so and face the very real possibility of death or life-threatening injury.
10:15PM - We have been able to restore transmission power to portions of the system. The next phase will involve patrolling individual feeders from the substation and once verified intact and free of downed trees or broken conductor, they will be energized one by one. Crews are heading home for the night, most to houses without power, in order to get warm and get some rest before beginning work again at 6:00am. Getting power to the substations is only the first step in a chain of events that must occur before power is restored, crews are still going to have to put the broken wire back up. This is not an easy task given the road conditions but crews are working as quickly and safely as they can to restore your power. The attached picture is just an example of the road conditions that our crews are facing. Repairing lines and downed equipment is a challenge but it's even more of a challenge when you have to cut your way into the affected area. Please call 1-888-420-8826 if you have information on fallen trees, broken poles, or downed lines. We appreciate your patience and will do all we can to restore power as quickly as possible.