Event Site: Mixed-use until high water subsides

In response to seasonal high water on the Columbia River, the Port of Hood River Board of Directors voted this week to give Michael McElwee, port executive director, the authority to extend the April 30 deadline for kiteboard landing and launching from the Hood River Event Site.

The move, requested by the Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association and supported by the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association, gives McElwee the flexibility through May to make a judgment call as to how long to allow mixed-use access at the event site.

“We’re basically implementing the same plan as last spring,” McElwee said. “Based on the way things went last year, the commission was comfortable with this as a reasonable and necessary response to high water.”

The high water contingency plan divides the Event Site roughly in half, with windsurfing allowed from the west side, kiteboard landing and launching from the east and a safety corridor directly offshore for coming and going only.

At issue for kiteboarding during high water is limited access to the river around the Hood River Waterfront. When the sandbar is underwater, kiteboarders are left without a reasonable, beginner-friendly place get on and off of the water. With steadily increasing numbers of both residents and visitors participating in the sport, and choosing Hood River’s doorstep to do it, the need for safe and organized kiteboarding access at the waterfront is higher now than ever.

McElwee noted that, based on snowpack data and river forecasts, the typical spring runoff that causes high water is not expected to linger nearly as long as it did last year. It could, however, be well into May before the Hood River Sandbar is above water for the remainder of the summer.

“It’s important to accommodate the continued growth of users in the sport,” said Pepi Gerald, CGKA president and downtown business owner. “Even this early in the season, many people are coming from out of town to kiteboard here, and it is of great benefit to Hood River businesses and the community to ensure access to the river is kept as close to town as possible.”

McElwee said he will keep an eye on the situation and on forecasts. He will make the call to close the Event Site when it appears the sandbar will be above water for the remainder of the summer. Signage at the Event Site will indicate usage areas and will be updated when kiteboarding is restricted.

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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

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