News, Washington County, Weather

County declares state of emergency over winter storm

The Washington County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency Tuesday over the winter storm, saying the move would allow the county to have “greater flexibility and support for the multi-agency response to the snow, wind and ice storms over the last several days and the coming freezing rain.”

With the emergency declaration in place, the county can seek federal and state assistance and funds to reimburse local dollars spent on storm response, cut through red tape to more easily buy goods and services as allowed under emergencies as allowed for under Oregon law, and follow county emergency plans and procedures as needed to respond to and recover from the winter storm.

The declaration (.pdf) will expire on January 23 unless renewed by the board.

“The commission is very well aware of the state of damage that has happened here,” said Washington County Commissioner Pam Treece in a press release. “We are very well aware of the weather conditions coming forward. We are concerned about making sure that the public is safe and comfortable,” said Treece. “This is a significant situation and we request your patience.”

The county said that nearly 100 trees had fallen across the county, bringing down power lines and knocking power out for tens of thousands of households in the county.

The Washington County Medical Examiner’s Office is examining the death of a Tigard resident found dead in their home on Monday. According to a press release, the death is being investigated as related to hypothermia.

The county noted the following information for residents to mitigate the impacts of the storm.

The public can help reduce the impact of the storm by doing the following:

  • Avoid unnecessary travel, allowing utility crews and other first responders to address impacts of the storms safely. Check https://wc-roads.comhttps://www.tripcheck.com  or https://trimet.org before traveling.
  • Check on neighbors and offer support, like transportation, device charging or warmth. Hillsboro’s Wingspan Event and Conference Center is open for shelter and charging, but check https://trimet.org or call 2-1-1 for transportation support before attempting to travel.
  • If the power goes out, run generators or use grills outdoors away from windows or vents that could draw poisonous gas inside. Keep a three-foot distance between your heating source and other items in our home. Don’t use your stove or oven to stay warm, as it is not safe for heating your home.
  • If the power goes out, avoid frozen pipes by turning on the faucet farthest from your water meter so that it has a slow and steady drip. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let the warmer air from the rest of your home into that space. Know where your emergency water shut-off valve is in case you need to prevent flooding due to a burst water pipe.
    More information about shelter options can be found at  https://wcor.us/disasterhelpmap  Shelter, transportation and other resources can be found by calling 2-1-1. Report or monitor power outages by contacting the electrical providers listed at https://www.washingtoncountyor.gov/emergency/power-outages. Use Request a Road Service to report downed trees or branches on streets/roads or sidewalks or call 503-629-0111. Find preparedness and other resources at https://www.washingtoncountyor.gov/emergency/incidents

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek said that she had directed additional state resources to respond to the winter storm.

“Over the last few days, state employees and countless local responders have worked around the clock and volunteered their time to support their fellow Oregonians in need as frigid temperatures and winter storm conditions left thousands without power and at risk for medical emergencies,” Kotek said in a press release. “I want to thank everyone across the state who continue to help those in need. In times of crisis, I’m always inspired by how Oregonians step up to take care of one another,” she said.

“As severe winter weather conditions and the potential for long-term power outages continue, my office and state agencies will continue to support local jurisdictions and provide updates and resources to keep individuals and families safe. If you don’t feel safe at home or need to know where your nearest warming center is, please call 211. They will help get you the information you need to reach a safe place to stay warm.”

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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