Oregon Coast Damage 'Worse Than Columbus Day Storm'
(Oregon Coast) – One coastal resident described it as “worse than the Columbus Day storm” and looking “like Hiroshima out there.”
With gusts over 100 mph, trees down everywhere you look, power out along almost the entire northern half of the Oregon coast, and major damage to property, the region is in the middle of what many consider the worst storm ever.
It was the first time the National Weather Service issued a warning for “hurricane-force winds” on the coast. And those expectations were met. Bay City, near Tillamook, reported a gust as high as 129 mph. Lincoln City reported 92, and Rockaway Beach recorded a gust of 104.
The result was power out from Astoria down to Depoe Bay – over 100 miles of coastline. Newport is intact, South Beach had power restored this afternoon, while Waldport and Yachats are still in the dark, which amounts to almost 180 miles of outages.
Waldport resident Jauna Brown said the PUD told her family on Sunday night it could be 48 hours before power might return there.
On the north coast, power officials said the main transmission lines into the area were all down. At least one tower in the mountains that carries those lines to the north coast is down. Officials say there could be more.
Phone lines are down on the entire north coast as well as in Lincoln City. Calls to those landlines are met with busy signals or an “all circuits are busy” message.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has continued the flood warnings for the Wilson, Trask, Nestucca, Siletz and Nehalem rivers. Minor flooding is forecast for these, which include the areas around Nehalem, Waldport, Lincoln City, Tillamook and various parts of northern Clatsop County.
Flooding has caused numerous closures all over the coast. Tillamook was closed off on all sides this afternoon. Other closures include just south of Seaside and Highways 6 and 26, and parts of Highway 18 close to Lincoln City.
Keith Chandler is manager of the Seaside Aquarium but lives in Astoria. He left Seaside early this morning to return home and make sure his family was safe. Via a cell phone call that was wrought with disruptions, Chandler told BeachConnection.net it was a brutal melee.
“It’s like Hiroshima out there,” Chandler said. “There are trees down everywhere. Siding is all over the place. The aquarium’s billboard on the north end of town is knocked over, and most road signs are gone. I think it’s worse than the Columbus Day Storm. There’s more damage.”
Chandler is worried the power may be out for a whole week on the north coast.
“There’s one tower down that they know about,” he said. “But how many more are there? They don’t know, because they need a helicopter to get out there and survey the damage, and they can’t get one out there now.”
BeachConnection.net could not reach any of its correspondents that were not working in the Portland office.
Brown and her family watched in awe as various objects from the neighborhood went flying everywhere. “The neighbor’s house was losing siding and shingles all day, and now all the siding is gone,” she said. “A tree fell on our truck, but luckily there was no damage.”
Husband Jeff Brown was dealing with another tree that had fallen onto the couple’s power line going from the house to the pole. “It’s sagging and just dropped another ten feet, but it hasn’t snapped yet,” he said.
Jauna said they were watching a porta-potty across the street get knocked over and start moving. “We were watching that flying around and I kept hoping, ‘No, don’t land over here.’ It wound up wrapping around a tree, and there’s toilet paper everywhere.”
Newport, however, seemed impervious to any of the brouhaha. Starfish Point manager Danielle Emerick said power didn’t go out there, although her net access has been gone for three days.
“We’re doing fine over here,” she said. “Newport never seems to get hit.”
Emerick added the surf was right up onto the bottom of the cliff below the hotel, and was sometimes climbing up the inn’s private stairway.
“The waves are moving from south to north,” Emerick said. “They’re getting blown so hard by the wind, you can see them get pushed from Nye Beach all the way up here to Agate Beach.”
Despite the mess, Chandler still got a bit humorous about the maniacal storm conditions, citing the fact Seaside has been celebrating “Festivus” week – a term borrowed from the Seinfeld show, used to describe a shopping gimmick.
“There’s the Columbus Day storm, but we’ve got to come up with a name for this one,” he said. “How about the Festivus Storm?”
Meanwhile, with most roads to the coast closed anyway, officials urge people not to try and head out to the beach to check things out. Wait a couple days. Then, however, things will be quite interesting, with lots of wild debris on the beaches to check out and some fascinating beachcombing finds.
High winds will continue until later tonight on the coast. Click here for video of storm aftermath
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