City water supply threatened by slide

January 25, 2012

"Kris Zorza and his crew did an absolutely phenomenal job in protecting the city's water system," said Bob Francis, Hood River city manager. "People might never know how important their work has been."

While the rest of us were digging out driveways and throwing out spoiled food from refrigerators on Jan. 23, Zorza's crew from Columbia Tree Service was protecting one of the city's most important resources.

According to Francis, city crews were inspecting the city water lines throughout the ice storm and found a landslide event in progress on the step banks of the Hood River below Riverdale Drive - directly threatening both the current 8-inch water main and the newly installed 24-inch line, which has yet to be put into service.

Francis said Mark Lago and Dave Smock of the city public works department knew whom to call.

"Our public works department does an amazing job but when there is extreme tree danger, we call in the experts," said Francis.

"We had to take out two large fir trees near the river and two on the upper slope," said Zorza, whose crew worked the emergency tree-felling operation on steep, ice-covered terrain in and around the slide. "The landslide had taken down some trees and the remaining trees were a threat to both lines."

The section of the lines in danger were those leading to the truss bridge which supports the lines across the Hood River. The crew first accessed the area from across the bridge via Riverside Drive.

"The trees were located in such as way that if one set went down they could've broken the 8-inch main waterline feeding the city. The other set would have fallen across the 24-inch pipe. We would have had to put more time and money into repairing that line before we even got it hooked up," said Francis. "Kris' team prevented a major break in the system. Our hats are off to them."

"Those were pretty extreme conditions," said Zorza, whose team also responded to 20 additional calls between noon and 4 p.m. on the same day. Four large firs were successfully felled and removed, each located within just a few feet of the water lines. "It was exciting to say the least," laughed Zorza.

The crew "had to leave the two lower firs on the banks of the river," according to Zorza because there was no way to pull the trees up the slope in the weather conditions.

The Columbia Tree Service crew fielded about 200 calls for downed trees throughout the ice storm, said Zorza. Other crew members on the emergency call for the city included: Kevin Mason, Tyler Wells and Jon Bryan.

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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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