Daisynel Dalde and her son Zack, 8, outside their apartment on Liberty Road in south Salem on Feb. 23. The family has been without power since an ice storm hit on Feb. 12 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Daisynel Dalde and her family had just finished a grocery store run to stock up on food for the week when their power went out on Feb. 12.
Dalde said she, her husband and their three children spent that night at home, assuming the lights would be back on before long.
Almost two weeks later, their south Salem apartment remains dark and cold, even as most of the complex is back online. Dalde said she had to throw away a refrigerator and freezer’s worth of food.
“So unlucky!” she said about the timing of their shopping trip.
She’s been texting with Portland General Electric, which has estimated it might take two more days to restore power, she said.
“It’s so frustrating, but we cannot do anything,” Dalde said.
Their living room has candles to keep things a little brighter. Her son, Zack, 8, can’t attend his online classes at Liberty Elementary School, which sits across the street. He said he relied on his iPad and playing outside to stay busy.
“We’re surviving, right?” he said.
The family has been spending nights with a friend in west Salem and borrowed a propane grill to cook with. Dalde said the cold is especially hard because they moved to Salem from the Philippines in 2018 and are used to warmer climates.
“This is my first disaster here,” she said with a smile. “It’s just lucky that we have friends.”
While most of Salem now has power eleven days after an ice storm knocked out much of the city’s grid, thousands of people remain in the dark.
Portland General Electric has said power should be restored to nearly every household in Salem city limits within the next day. But outlying areas just outside city limits, as well as the South Liberty Street area where Dalde lives, may take through the end of the week, according to the utility’s map.
The prolonged outage in the neighborhood has several causes, PGE spokesman Steve Corson said. Crews discovered four more downed power poles in the area while completing repairs Monday, and a nearby health clinic lost power Monday, forcing crews working on other repairs to divert, he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, about 3,600 PGE customers in Marion County remained without power. Many more were still dealing with the aftermath of the storm and outages that lasted more than a week.
Cori Clausen was preparing to bring the linemen repairing her power line dinner around 5 p.m. Monday. Her family had been without power at their home on the eastern outskirts of Salem since Feb. 11, aided by a generator which kept their well running and refrigerator on.
Clausen said she and her husband heard a tree fall and the line shake soon after their power went out.
“Literally the lines snapped in half,” she said. When they drove into town to get service and realized the scale of the destruction, she assumed they’d be out for at least a week.
She stayed home with their four children, helping neighbors cut up trees and relying on takeout Mexican and McDonalds to feed the family. One night, trying to keep spirits up, she asked her kids to say what they were thankful for before dinner.
“I was like, I am not thankful for anything right now, I just want power, all my sheets are dirty, my clothes are dirty, my kids are dirty,” she said. Her children listed their generator and their fireplace.
Clausen said when she saw utility trucks turn down her road on Monday, she got excited but didn’t believe they were coming to her house. When they turned in her driveway, “I totally teared up,” she said.
Her power came back on around 5:30 p.m. Monday, allowing her to take a hot shower and do laundry.
Branches are stacked outside homes in south Salem along Cottage Street on Feb. 23 as residents clean up following an ice storm which brought power lines and trees down across Salem (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
On Tuesday afternoon south of Bush’s Pasture Park, most houses had power back on, though a few with feeder lines down remained dark.
Joan Stembridge walked along Southeast Cottage Street, talking to neighbors who were clearing branches from their front yards. She said her power came back Saturday after more than a week.
Internet and television were still out, but Stembridge said she didn’t mind. With a fireplace to stay warm, she said the experience was “kind of like going back in time.”
“You just figure out a way,” she said.
At the Liberty Street apartment complex, Edward Alston was also without power in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend and two cats.
He drives a truck at night and said he’s struggled with the cold as a California native who’s used to warmer climates. Some days, he said he stays bundled in bed to keep warm.
“I’m like not used to this situation here,” he said, laughing. When he moved in 2019, he said he expected to leave wildfires and rolling brownouts behind, but the past year has been a rude awakening.
“We’re hanging in there for Covid and now we get hit with this,” he said.
Alston said he and his girlfriend have been able to shower at her grandparent’s house nearby. Even his more aloof cat has taken to sleeping on his bed, he said, presumably to stay warm.
His girlfriend spent the early days after the storm checking the PGE outage map religiously, but Alston said he’s given up trying to predict when power might come back.
“Everything just kept getting pushed back,” he said. Some of their groceries sit in a cooler on the porch. He said he knows other people with prolonged outages have gone to hotels, but he and his cats are stuck.
“We don’t have any money to get a hotel room,” he said. “In these times of turbulence, you really need either that support or you need some bread in your pocket.”
Alston said his stereo system is ready to go for when the power returns. The first song he wants to play? “Good Time” by Chic.
“Keep it disco,” he said, grinning.
Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
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