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The original item was published from 12/27/2016 8:51:50 AM to 12/29/2016 9:05:21 AM.

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Posted on: December 27, 2016

[ARCHIVED] The City of Eugene Pulled Together Through Storm Emergency

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, a major storm moved through Eugene coating much of the city in ice, leading to treacherous conditions, falling trees and limbs, and downed power lines across the city, causing power outages for approximately 20,000 homes and businesses.

The City of Eugene, including Public Works, Eugene Police, Eugene/Springfield Fire, and the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) immediately responded to the emergency and its on-going impacts. 

While the scope of the storm’s impact was one of the largest in recent history, community response was equally impressive.

There are countless stories of community members helping each other throughout the event. Volunteers with the Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERT) worked to check on neighbors and others in the community who might need help or information. The Egan Warming Centers were opened for multiple nights and through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers were able to provide critical shelter to some of the community’s most vulnerable people.

Multiple agencies mobilized responses including Lane County, American Red Cross, and dozens of local social service agencies that coordinate during emergencies through the Lane County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD).

  • On Friday, the American Red Cross opened a 100-bed shelter at Spencer Butte Middle School for people who were without power and in need of a place to stay. The facility was open 24/7 for six days providing shelter, access to showers, warm meals, electricity to charge electronic devices and a space to warm up.
    • During the event, Red Cross volunteers provided more than 450 hours of service and provided services to about 200 individuals, with some coming back multiple times while the shelter was open.
  • Lane County coordinated with COAD to provide a 2-1-1 help line for those without power and experiencing a crisis. The help line provided an easy number to call to be connected with resources that may assist with unique needs brought on by the widespread, long-term power outages.

Local businesses repeatedly supported those in need – from providing hotel rooms to fixing plumbing problems and more.

  • An elderly couple could not stay at the shelter because of significant health issues. Staff at the City's call center contacted a local hotel, Home 2 Suites, and the hotel manager offered to temporarily house the couple. A City Recreation employee drove the couple to the hotel and bought them a warm meal for dinner.
  • A community member, who was recovering from surgery, was displaced from his home due to a significant storm-related plumbing problem and spent the night at the Red Cross Shelter. After learning about the situation, a City of Eugene employee contacted local plumbers, and Pacific Plumbing agreed to repair his plumbing at no cost so he could return to his home and recover.

City of Eugene crews worked round the clock coordinating with numerous other agencies and partners to ensure that all residents were safe and protected.

  • Public Works continues to respond to the impacts of the ice storm and is prepared for a lengthy cleanup process which is anticipated to continue for several weeks.
    • To date, Public Works has taken more than 1,200 calls for service and responded to nearly 900 of those requests – approximately 780 responses were tree related.
    • In all, crews opened about 50 closed or blocked roads and have worked about 3,000 hours since last Wednesday.
  • Over a five day period EPD received more than 2,000 calls for service and was responded throughout the incident to address emergency needs and maintain public safety. During the afternoon hours on the first day of the storm, 800 calls were entered by Central Lane 911 dispatch – more than double their typical call amount for that time.
  • Eugene/Springfield Fire Department crews responded to 462 calls for service during the storm.
    • In addition to responding to community calls, the department added two brush rigs with three personnel each who worked with EWEB and Public Works teams to clear trees and debris. This coordinated effort helped clear roads and restore power faster to some of the hardest hit areas of the city.
  • The City opened and staffed Emergency Operation Center (EOC) at the Sheldon Fire Station to respond to community needs and coordinate public information.
    • The EOC oversaw the opening of a local emergency center call line that fielded more than 120 calls during the event coordinating with Lane County and COAD.
    • Staff from across the City worked at the call center, including Recreation, Library, and Risk Services employees.
    • These employees helped community members connect to resources, including reaching out to local social service agencies and business.
  • Recreation staff filled a critical role of providing transportation. City Recreation employees drove people who had no power or transportation to emergency shelter locations, and back again. They also delivered supplies to people who had no transportation.
  • City facilities, such as libraries and community centers, provided spaces for people to stay warm and recharge phones.

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