In February of 2019, Douglas County in Oregon experienced an epic snowstorm that caught everyone by surprise. The weather forecast was for a large amount of rainfall possibly turning to snow. We never get much snow around here, so it didn’t seem likely that we would get any. The snow came down over a period of two days and was wet and heavy. As a result all of the residents in the county lost power and most lost cell service and internet service for from less than a day (in town) to three weeks. We, ourselves, lost power for eight days and a bit longer for cell and internet. At our farm we got about 2 feet of snow, which is a disaster for this part of the country. There were downed and broken power lines all over the county along with a multitude of downed trees. Many roads were impassable and one whole town north of here was completely stranded. I kept a diary of sorts during the power outage and what follows is my account (with explanations in parentheses). Photos are at the bottom of the page.
–Sunday, February 24–power went out at night after 7 pm. (It started snowing in the evening; big, beautiful flakes)
–Monday, February 25–no power, no cell, no internet-at least 1 ft. of snow, still snowing. Water in pressure tank, cistern. Turned off all water to toilets. PB&J for breakfast. (We have a pressure tank in the house that runs from the cistern. We didn’t know how much water it held, but we did have bottled water.) Pulled generator from barn to house in deep snow on cart. Tipped over, switch on gen. broken, now only works with 120 volt and extension cords. Powered up for 2 hours for refrigerator, freezers and Keurig. Wood stove works, plenty of wood. Thankfully had previously figured out the smoke problem. ( The wood stove had been giving us problems with making the house smoky, and we stopped using it. But Bruce finally figured out the problem, just days before the snowstorm hit.) Made tuna for lunch. Tree branch fell onto road near creek. FVR (the main road)passable, not plowed. Chicken Veg Soup for dinner. Read to Bruce about Iceland on Kindle with soy candle for light. (Nights were the worst–it was cold and dark and depressing. We had on many layers of clothing which we slept in, but were still cold.)
(So strange to be stranded with no contact from the rest of the world-scary too, if we had an accident. We would have had to walk through the snow up to the main road and then hope to flag a car going by.)
–Tuesday, February 26–no power, cell, internet. PB&J & coffee for breakfast. Powering gen. for 2 hours/3X’s per day. Getting pond water to flush toilets. 🙂 (Took a day to figure that out; we must have been in shock). Drove the ATV from barn and up the road, but it stalled and wouldn’t restart. Dragged it away from FVR and left it. (We had just bought the ATV second-hand from a friend and had it tuned up, so we thought it would be our salvation to give us a way to get the truck up to the main road. Before we finally got plowed out, I came up with a boatload of ideas for getting that truck up to the road. My last idea was to lay newspapers all along our road and set fire to them to melt the snow. Yes, I was that desperate! At least all my failed ideas gave us something to do during the day.)
–Wednesday, February 27–Defrosted frittata warmed on the stove for breakfast. (We have a propane stove in the kitchen, so cooking was possible.) Bruce walked to George’s (our nearest neighbor). He only let Bruce use phone to call Tim-no plow, no fuel, not much help. After the call, he asked Bruce where he had parked! (He actually thought that Bruce had driven to his house, to use his phone!) Bruce flagged down a truck on FVR and it was Don Casteel, Tim’s partner (he did some work on our farm). Gave Bruce 5 gallons of fuel and said would plow our road on Thursday. (We we getting low on fuel for the generator, and Bruce had been considering walking to town-12 miles- and renting a U-Haul so we would have transportation.) Steak, potatoes and cauliflower for dinner. (Utilizing the BBQ grill and kitchen stove.) Read about the bee lady at night. (A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell. Great book by the foremost expert on bee-keeping)
–Thursday, February 28–Don & Tim arrived with Cat @ 2pm. (We were beginning to think they weren’t coming, but they were busy all day with the plow helping other people.) Plowed out road and got the ATV back to the house and truck out to FVR. Went to town-farm store, Costco, Sherm’s and Thai Restaurant—in ski hat, down jacket and muck boots. Bruce made a sled out of plywood with straps to haul wood from shed. Read about bee lady at night.
–Friday, March 1—Dave H. brought over his generator with 230 V, but we had the wrong plug for it. Ours is for a 30 amp and his is for a 20 amp. Finally found a plug from Alan Sabin and went out at dark to get it from him in Camas Valley. (Bruce said it was like doing a drug deal.) Finally had lights on at night and water to flush toilets. Got some spotty cell service. Newspaper delivery today. (Thanks go out to Dave H. and Dave C. for lending us their generators, when their power was restored.)
–Saturday, March 2—Still no power. Spotty cell, no internet. Toaster made toast this morning. Space heater doesn’t work on generator. Not much to do today. Bruce cleared a path to FVR and dug a path from FVR to the mailbox. Got mail and paper today. Governor declared our area a State of Emergency on Thursday. We see no improvement. Played Canasta. (This is how bored we were–because Bruce never plays any games.)
So the up-side to all of this is that we have made a list of everything we had that was helpful and the things we wish we had or what we would have done differently. We were mostly well-prepared. You do what you can and pray for the rest. Also, we are so thankful to the many people in Douglas County who went above and beyond in helping us and many others out, with no expectation of reward, but just because they could and because they are wonderful, kind-hearted people who exemplify the best of this country.
The usual amount of snow we get in the wintertime. This was a few days before Snowmageddon.
- Frittata; 2-3. First day of snowfall; 4. Entry to our farm; 5. Main road to town- George’s house way in the distance; 6. tree down on our road.
1-4. More snow has fallen. 5. Truck stuck in the snow.
- Bruce getting pond water for the toilets, in knee-deep snow; 2-3. Our attempt to drive the truck out; 4. The ATV was great while it lasted; 5 It took us awhile to figure out how to get more light. If you shine a flashlight onto a white wall you get quite a lot of light. This is our soy emergency candle, in a canning jar.
1-4. So much snow-covering 2 foot bushes; 5. Our trusty wood stove blasting away for days. 6. Some hope for tomorrow? Yes!