Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Thousands of Salem residents woke up Tuesday still without power

February 16, 2021 at 5:51pm

Help available for low-income Oregonians who've had to toss food because of storm

The state Department of Human Services (Courtesy/State of Oregon)

Oregonians receiving nutritional benefits can apply to the Department of Human Services to replace food spoiled by the recent power outages.

People receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits (also called “SNAP” or food stamps) who’ve lost or had to throw out food after losing electricity, flooding, home damage or some other misfortune can request replacement benefits based on the value of the items destroyed.

The requests must be made to the department within 10 days of the date the food is destroyed, according to a press statement.

Those wishing to apply for replacement benefits are advised to call the department’s eligibility line at 1-800-699-9075. More information and forms to apply for replacement benefits are available on the DHS website.

-Jake Thomas

February 16, 2021 at 4:35pm

Keep fridge doors closed and don't taste food to find out if it's gone bad, Emergency Management advises

Sibyll Durham of west Salem uses candles to heat her coffee, and a fireplace to warm her breakfast Saturday morning. Durham is one of thousands of Salem residents without electricity after an ice storm Friday night. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

As Salem residents without power try to salvage food from non-working refrigerators, Oregon State University’s extension office and the state Office of Emergency Management have some tips.

The first is never to taste food to determine if it’s safe to eat because you can’t rely on odor or appearance, the state agency said in a news release Tuesday.

Try to keep the doors closed as much as possible and insulate around the fridge to keep contents cold for longer. But don’t block the fans and vents on appliances in case the power comes back on, said Jeanne Brandt, with the Linn/Benton County OSU extension office, in an extension office newsletter.

“If travel is safe, consider moving expensive frozen items to a family or friend’s freezer,” she wrote.

Emergency Management said to use a food thermometer to check the temperature of food right before cooking or eating it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it said.

The agency said a full freezer will hold temperature for 48 hours or half that if it’s half full when the door remains closed. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened, the release said.

“If you have dry or block ice it may help keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for long time,” the agency said. 

-Saphara Harrell

February 16, 2021 at 3:41pm

Comcast says about 22,000 in Salem without internet; no timeline for restoration

On a rainy, and windy day, Feb. 15, a lineman for Salem Electric works to repair power lines damaged by a weekend ice storm. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

About 22,000 Comcast customers remain without internet service in the Salem area as of Tuesday morning, and the company said service restoration depends on the speed of electrical utility repairs.

"It’s important to understand that safety protocols require the utilities to give us a green light before we can make repairs where live wires may be in play," said Amy Keiter, a spokeswoman for Comcast.

Keiter said Comcast did not see significant damage to its fiber infrastructure in the Salem area and nearly all of the outages are related to power outages.

The company has dispatched crews from Eugene to add to about 150 local techs in the field, according to a blog post.

Stephanie Meisse, a spokeswoman for Lumen (formerly known as CenturyLink), said she could not provide a count of Salem-area customers or say how many are without service.

"We expect services to restore as debris is cleared and power is restored," Meisse said in an email.

-Rachel Alexander

February 16, 2021 at 3:28pm

Salem-Keizer cancels school for Wednesday. Feb. 17

With power and internet outages still widespread in the Salem area, the Salem-Keizer School District has canceled all online and in-person classes and activities for Feb. 17.

All schools and district offices will be closed, the district said in a tweet.

The closure includes preschool programs, sports practices and grab-and-go meal distribution around the district.

The district hopes to resume food distribution Thursday and will share specifics on Wednesday.

-Rachel Alexander

February 16, 2021 at 12:35pm

McKay High School teachers plan to hand out food at noon, need donations

Milk sits in an insulated container to be delivered via school bus at the Salem-Keizer Career Technical Education Center on Nov. 24 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

With widespread power outages across Salem, local schools won't be handing out brown bag meals to kids Tuesday or Wednesday.

But a team of McKay High School teachers plans to serve any families who do show up needing food at noon Tuesday, teacher Tiffany Cartensen said in an email.

The team will be on Wolverine Street in front of the school parking lot. The school is located at 2240 Lancaster Drive Northeast. Anyone who needs food is welcome.

Anyone who wants to help with the effort can show up with purchased food, cash or gift cards and ask for Lisa Cassidy.

-Rachel Alexander

February 16, 2021 at 11:43am

Marion County sets up call center for welfare checks, other needs

Marion County ice storm hotline information (Courtesy/Marion County)

Marion County residents who need help following the weekend's ice storm and widespread power outages can now call 503-588-5108.

The line is available 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays to help connect county residents to available resources.

Callers can also request a welfare check for medically vulnerable friends or family members in unincorporated areas of Marion County.

The county is working on a plan with the City of Salem for Salem residents to drop off yard debris and downed branches, but has not yet announced details. More information should be available later Tuesday, county spokeswoman Jolene Kelley said.

-Rachel Alexander

February 16, 2021 at 10:34am

Warming centers open Tuesday; 56,000 still without power in Salem area

Downed trees at Wallace Marine Park on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Two local churches will open Tuesday for Salem and Keizer residents to get warm and recharge devices.

Salem Evangelical Church, 455 Locust St. N.E., will be open starting at 10 a.m.

St. Edward Catholic Church in Keizer, 5305 River Rd. N., will open at noon.

Both centers will have snacks available and will operate at limited capacity because of Covid restrictions. Residents are encouraged to warm up, charge devices and then leave to make room for others.

Crews made progress restoring power overnight, but Portland General Electric was reporting 54,447 Marion County customers and 1,563 Polk County customers were without power as of 9:10 a.m. Tuesday, with no estimate for restoration. That's down from more than 68,000 Marion County residents and 2,121 Polk County residents without power Monday evening.

Salem Electric reported 70 customers without power as of 7:39 a.m. Tuesday in west and north Salem and Keizer, down from 108 Monday evening.

-Rachel Alexander

February 16, 2021 at 10:22am

Northeast Court and Center streets closed following train and semi-trailer crash

Northeast Court Street and Center Street will be closed for several hours in the morning on Feb. 16, 2021 after a train and semi-trailer crashed. (Courtesy/Rob Owen)

Update 3:20 p.m. : Both roads have reopened.

Northeast Court Street and Center Street will be closed for several hours after a train and semi-trailer crashed, Salem police said in a news release Tuesday morning.

Police said no injuries were reported and only the trailer was hit. 

-Saphara Harrell