Storm’s wallop hits county in pocket


News staff writer

November 22, 2006

Hood River County has tallied up and turned in its damages from the Nov. 7 storm to the state’s Office of Emergency Management.

Economic Development Coordinator Bill Fashing cautions that the tally is built on a worst-case scenario. The estimates list $27 million in damages for Hood River County overall. There could be an additional $22 million in agriculture costs and losses alone, if the irrigation districts can’t get up and running again.

“The $27 million is probably the more realistic number,” Fashing said. “But we present what is the worst of all possible situations to make sure our bases are covered.”

The initial damage assessment for Hood River County breaks down into:

* $1,340,924 for business costs and loss;

* $22 million for tree fruit impact on more than 5,500 acres;

* $3,910,000 for special districts costs and loss;

* $10 to 20 million for Highway 35 damage; and

* $1,774,000 for county facilities.

The damage covers 14 impact areas in Hood River County from south to north. Those sites include the major breaks within Highway 35 as it loops around Mount Hood (see related story). The sites also include the Mt. Hood Railroad, Red Hill Road bridge, Toll Bridge Road, Farmers Irrigation, Middle Fork Irrigation, the road to Coe Branch Diversion, Ice Fountain Water District spring and the Port of Hood River.

Port Director Michael McElwee was able to get an aerial view of the impact to the port’s cruise ship dock and the Nichols Boat Works basin. Commissioner Hoby Streich is a licensed pilot and took McElwee up in the air last week.

“The sand there is at least three times the size of what was there before,” he said.

McElwee rifled through port aerial photos from five and 10 years ago in his office. He said while the sediment has built up over time, what happened in a few days at the beginning of the month surpassed those decades.

“We took a look at the shoaling at the entrance there; it’s bad,” said Jon Gornick, project dredging manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

While the corps is responsible for keeping federally authorized channels on the Columbia River open, they aren’t able to help the Port of Hood River.

“We are on a continuing resolution right now; don’t even have the money to do it,” Gornick said.

A continuing resolution is what the government operates on when Congress hasn’t approved the nation’s budget.

The corps advised the port to apply for federal disaster relief. Whether or not the port or any of the impacted entities in Hood River County will receive funds to help repair damages is not yet known. What the county has done is enter into the process of qualifying for disaster relief through the state and then the federal government.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Ken Murphy, the director of Oregon Emergency Management, are touring the damage along Highway 35 Tuesday. Public Affairs spokeswoman Bonnie McCullough said they are taking a look at the initial damage assessment.

“We then make a determination if there would be qualification for federal funds,” she said.

McCullough said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will tour Hood River County as part of its sweep through Oregon next week.

“They are hitting Hood River, Tillamook, Clatsop and Lincoln counties on the 28th and 29th,” she said.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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