Saturday, December 2, 2006
By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
November 15, 2006
Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort has been isolated by flooding that damaged or destroyed sections of Highway 35 — but Dave Riley, general manager, remains optimistic that a ski season can still happen.
“This is nothing that a lot of yellow equipment can’t take care of,” he said after viewing the damage.
To Riley, last week’s tour of the devastation with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden and state Rep. Patti Smith felt like a case of deja vu. He had witnessed similar damage, often in the same areas, following storms in 2000 and 1996.
The latest disaster followed the same pattern of warm and heavy rains that saturated glacial sediment on Mount Hood. More than one million cubic yards of mud is believed to have cascaded down the slopes and entered waterways, picking up rocks and woody debris.
The White River jumped its banks after the channel filled in, carving a small gorge to the north of the Highway 35 bridge.
To the north of the Meadows access road, the culvert to Clark Creek also plugged, which diverted water into a deep channel along the side of the road. The shoulder of the highway was destroyed and the pavement was undercut.
Further north, Newton Creek bypassed its normal culvert and jumped over the road after gouging out a deep ditch for several hundred yards. Huge boulders — some as large as vehicles — sit atop sediment that is five to six feet high along the damaged sections of roadway.
However, most of the left lane of Highway 35 remains intact between the closure to the south of Baseline Drive and Meadows. Riley said employees are being bused up in the morning and evening to prepare the resort for the ski season, which typically begins within two weeks of the Thanksgiving holiday.
This weekend, the annual orientation for new and returning employees will take place in Hood River instead of at Meadows. Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Transportation is hard at work on the repairs that could cost as much as $20 million.
Meadows is Hood River County’s largest private employer and draws 90 percent of its workforce from the local area. However, 90 percent of the skiers — 500,000 last year — come from the south side of the mountain. So, Riley is unsure how business at Meadows will be affected in upcoming weeks if only Highway 35 is open. But he’ll take what he can get and said Hood River could enjoy a boom in its tourism trade if it is the sole corridor to the resort.
“We’ve got some time here so I’m optimistic. I’m just glad this isn’t happening in January,” said Riley.
The Nov. 9 tour of Highway 35 also included representatives from the governor’s office, ODOT, the U.S. Forest service and the Federal Highway Administration. Walden was flown over the areas as well as given a first-hand view from the ground.
“I think the good news is that everything’s on track and federal money is available for this type of situation,” said Walden. “At this point, everybody’s moving as fast as humanly possible so I’m hopeful we’ll get at least one access to Meadows open soon.”
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge