Meadows cheers Highway 35 reopening


News staff writer

December 6, 2006

Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort President Dave Riley applauded after learning at Monday’s meeting in Hood River that the Oregon Department of Transportation would reopen Highway 35 in both directions at 5 a.m. on Saturday.

Although the resort won’t open until 9 a.m. as usual, Riley was excited about getting the business up and running during its most profitable months. Meadows has been inaccessible to recreationists since Nov. 7 debris flows washed out 2.5 miles of the roadway.

“We have five feet of settled snow in the base area, more than six feet at mid-mountain, and we’ve had time to groom it,” said Riley. “That is substantially more than what we would normally open with and we look forward to getting as much of the mountain open as conditions allow.”

Riley said the 1,000 seasonal employees who have been “on hold” are excited about finally getting to work. The majority of Meadows personnel come from Hood River County and the company feeds a $5 million payroll back into the community.

“I think this made us all very aware of the importance of this highway,” said Riley.

Meadows is planning a “Glacial Outburst: I Survived 35” party on Dec. 16. The fun-filled event will feature the Paul deLay Band — with a focus on the “Delay,” quipped Riley.

“We have a lot to celebrate and we are going to be honoring all of the officials who helped us get the job done,” he said.

Karla Keller, Region 1 operations manager for ODOT, briefed her audience at the Dec. 4 meeting about the massive undertaking to repair the highway so quickly. Last weekend, the agency and contractor Tri-State Construction had more than 50 pieces of heavy equipment on the ground, including excavators, bulldozers, dump trucks and loaders. ODOT officials estimate that about 400,000 cubic yards of material has been moved, with crews working 24 hours a day in some locations.

Although the rebuilt sections of Highway 35 near Newton and Clark creeks, and to the north of the White River Bridge will be easily accessible, the repairs continue. ODOT estimates that only 50 percent of its work has been completed. Equipment will continue to clear out the channel to the White River Bridge and its underspan, both of which were completely filled with materials.

The price tag for the 2006 event is expected to be at least $20 million and possibly higher. State and federal officials are in agreement with ODOT that a long-term fix is needed to prevent ongoing emergency expenditures.

The Nov. 7 flood damage was greater than the 2000 washouts in the same areas after 600,000 cubic yards of glacial material slid down the mountain slopes. Other past storms have caused similar damage along the highway.

ODOT has prepared a “Hot Spot” study of the seven major flood zones. With the latest repairs almost completed, the agency plans to pursue long-term solutions to the ongoing problem, such as building a longer and larger bridge over the White River.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed the White River West Snow Park for the 2006-07 season. Agency officials said an embankment has eroded in one location, creating a 40 foot cliff that makes the area unsafe for sledding or inner-tubing.

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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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