Let it drain: Public works, law enforcement have worked hard, now it’s time to help them

Looking back on the biggest snowfall in five years to hit the mid-Columbia, storm stories are as diverse as the snowflakes themselves.

This is likely not the last snow we will see in the Gorge’s lower elevations, so it’s good to keep in mind the lessons learned in the past week.

It’s reassuring to know that the mountain slopes have plenty of snow now, for the boost it gives to recreation, and the relief it might bring to the snowpack situation. It’s not enough to eliminate concerns for drought conditions this summer, but we will take it.

Snow removal has been a mixed bag; the city, county and state crews have done yeoman’s work in keeping streets clear and graveled.

Based on the amount of snow, those 8-foot piles of snow plowed up in front of your house are simply an inconvenient reality.

Thanks go to the public works crews, as well as law enforcement officers, who have pulled repeated 12-hour shifts for nearly a week, doing their best to keep things safe for us all.


Thanks also should go to our postal carriers, who have been climbing over berms and through thick snow to deliver the email.

“They’ve been going above and beyond, trying to do their jobs,” said Jeff Loeffler, deliveries supervisor.

Yet the rule is that if a carrier feels like it’s dangerous, they will not deliver.

“For (motorized) delivery, we ask that people clear out the snow, enough to where carriers can pull in and deliver and pull away safely,” Loeffler said.

“If people don’t clear their mailboxes they won’t get mail delivery,” he said.

That’s by order issued Monday from the Portland District office, he said.

For those patrons on walking delivery, pathways need to be clear from the road or sidewalk to the box.

“The emphasis is on safety for delivery,” Loeffler said.

Where possible, clear your driveway, mail box approach on the street, or front walk, to help your mail carrier, and to help your neighbors.

Mother Nature’s warming mood may help take care of it, but the reality is that the snowfall was large enough that it’s not going away quickly.

While you are at it, check for storm drains and catch basins in front of your home, and shovel snow away from them, too.

Draining the melt is the next big question for the Gorge. If you know where your drain is, and it’s covered, clear it out to give the melt the route it needs.

That way, melt-off can make its way to the subterranean system, where it belongs, rather than pooling on the streets and causing more hazards and headaches.

This is likely not the last we have seen of the snow this winter. Every storm event gives us a little more insight and experience to draw upon for the next event.

Sadly, there was a fatality accident during the storm, west of Cascade Locks, on Friday (details, page A2), on the same day that Oregon State Troopers were dealing with speeding cars and trucks, including one situation where three different troopers strategically staged themselves between mileposts 49 and 55 to try to flag down a driver going 70 and get him to slow down. They did this rather than endangering their own lives by giving pursuit. It apparently worked, as the driver was safely pulled over.

Granted, most drivers have the sense to drive at appropriate speeds, but the freeway tag-teaming by OSP was, shall we say, a drain on resources, thanks to one careless driver.

Just as sounds seem sharper when there is snow on the ground, when bad weather conditions exist it seems that the ways we can all impact either other, are heightened — for worse or, we hope, for better.

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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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