Remembering Douglas County’s Snowmageddon – 1 year later. – Staff Stories

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By Jim Teece

We asked the team at UmpquaBroadband how they were impacted by the storm personally and professionally.

Nick

How were you affected personally?

We were without power at the house for about 5 days in total. Fortunately, we have a wood stove which we could use for heat as well as cooking on. I also had a generator so we could run the refrigerator, among other things. I am an outdoors person, and as a youth participated in cub & boy scouts. As a teen I served as a squad leader for Douglas County Search and Rescue, and later, as an adult, served in the Army. So I was probably a bit more prepared than most, for this type of emergency.

How were you affected professionally?

From what I can recall, most of my time was spent in a “hurry up and wait” type of status, personally as well as professionally. Most of our efforts came during the aftermath with cleanup and restoration efforts. I had a lot of repairs to do at work due to either fallen trees busting through houses and smashing our CPE’s, or moving them out of alignment. I would roll up to a house and see the CPE dangling from the Ethernet line because of hundreds of pounds of snow sliding off the roofs, busting the facia boards and carrying the device with it. I did help out where I could, such as using my chainsaw and snowmobile to clear driveways of fallen timber, for people who were stuck. But for the most part, rescue operations were carried out by the professionals, as it should be. Where it couldn’t be, there were plenty of people in our community to lend a helping hand.

Any stories that stood out for you?

There was one neighbor of a friend of mine, who was stuck in their house for several days, until we cleared their driveway of all the fallen timber, which was about 1/4 mile long. Fortunately, she was quick witted and managed to stay warm by placing candles under terra cotta pots to act as a heater. She then made a “tee pee” in their house by bundling under blankets, over the pot. This woman was in her 80’s and had a lot of “life experience” as she called it.

I did make several trips over the course of the “snowpocalypse” to many of our tower sites to try to restore services, but virtually all of our towers were hard down due to fallen trees on power lines. This required the various utility companies to fix in order to restore services. Their priorities were not in line with our priorities though, so it took much longer to get our services back online than I and our clients cared for. They focused mostly on restoring power to local infrastructure rather than communications equipment and towers. Which, given the ” needs of the many, over the few ” viewpoint, does make sense. I recall that they did bring in crews from out of the area to help, but due to the extensive damage, and the sheer amount of area being affected, still took a very long time to resolve. This storm was pernicious in it’s after effects, and had a very devastating economical impact on not only us as a company, but as a community as well.

On the plus side, this year we have an abundance of firewood readily available!

Lessons Learned?

Overall, people in general were woefully under prepared for this type of catastrophe, and Emergency services were quickly overwhelmed with the amount of assistance that was being called on for the first few days. Fortunately we have a great community of dedicated, hard working individuals, that stepped up to the plate and helped each other in their time of need. It certainly didn’t hurt that our community is comprised of a lot of loggers and truck drivers! I think it was a good lesson all in all on preparedness, and we have certainly learned how vulnerable we can be if we are unprepared in the future. I’m sure the hardware stores aren’t hurting though, with the amount of generators they probably sold! So, there’s an economic impact in that regard too.

Chauntell

How were you affected personally?

We were without power at our home for 4 days. We used our gas stove/to boil water to try to get some heat. On the 3rd day we ended up having to stay in a hotel because it was too cold in our house. Finding a hotel was difficult as they were all full. One hotel that I went to was full, but as I was talking to the lady at the counter, the person behind me was cancelling their reservation due to power returning at their home. The hotel wouldn’t cancel theirs. They were very kind and let us stay in their room tied to their credit card. We paid them for what they paid, but they still held responsibility for the room. We were very appreciative of this. We had a wood stove installed this last summer so we will be better prepared if it happens again.

We lost almost all our refrigerated food and all of our frozen food.
A tree in our front yard broke, but luckily it did not fall on the house. We had to pay to have it removed completely.
We had to replace our roof about 1 1/2 years earlier than expected and get rid of our awning in our back yard due to it starting to collapse under the weight of the accumulated snow.
I broke down on the side of the freeway on my way to work due to the road conditions and a nice mechanic stopped to try to help. Robert had to come get me.

How were you affected professionally?

At work we lost power at the office, but power returned that day.
We were without power to all of our towers. The first tower we were able to get power to was back up after 2 days. The next few took 9 – 12 days for power to return to them. The power companies had trouble getting up the mountains to restore power. The last 2 towers couldn’t have power restored for 17 days total due to downed trees.
The first day of the storm we had to close the office and go home because we could not drive home safely due to road conditions and the continuance of snow. I forwarded all billing calls to my cell phone, however had little to no phone service. In some areas phone lines were completely down, including cell service. In other areas it was limited.

Any stories that stood out for you?

One of our towers we were able to get back up because a customer kindly lent us a generator.

Lessons Learned?

This storm was very costly, both personally and professionally.


Jim Teece owns Project A as well as Ashland Home Net, Rogue Broadband and is a partner in Art Authority and Co-Publisher of the Southern Oregon Business Journal. JimTeece.com


Remembering Douglas County’s Snowmageddon – 1 year later.

Intro
Restoring Service After the Storm
Social Media Posts 
 – The Black Box of Incident Management
Staff Stories

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