Downed trees and a makeshift barrier on 19th St. Southeast in Salem on Feb. 15 following an ice storm that left many homes without power (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

The lights are coming back on across the Salem area, but tens of thousands of local families remain without power, heat and internet as crews through the night to remove downed trees and repair lines.

Meantime, getting rid of the debris left by the weekend ice storm got easier.

Salem residents with downed branches and trees can take yard debris to four parks starting Wednesday morning.

Locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. there is no charge for Salem residents. The parks are:

Woodmansee Park – 4629 Sunnyside Rd. S.E.

Wallace Marine Park – 200 Glen Creek Rd. N.W.

Geer Park – 241 Geer Dr. N.E.

McKay Park – 2755 Hollywood Dr. N.E.

Other locations for debris drop off around Marion County are posted on the posted on the county website.

Those still in the dark have resorted to meals of cold cereal, trips to friends or local gyms to shower and other creative efforts to pass the time.

Krystle Fisher, who lives on Northeast Portland Road north of Salem said her neighborhood has been without power and water since early Saturday morning.

Fisher said she’s stayed warm in a sleeping bag by the fire and used a solar charger to keep her phone powered, but worried about food spoiling as the outside temperature warmed into the 40s.

She found help through a local Facebook group.

“A stranger to me messaged me and said he could bring over a generator for my house. I almost started crying at the generosity. He came and hooked up my fridge and freezer for me,” Fisher said in an email.

By Tuesday afternoon, Salem Electric said customers still without power should call the utility at 503-362-3601.

Portland General Electric reported 53,460 customers without power in Marion County and 1,046 in Polk County as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

People still without power after their neighborhood has been restored should report the outage to the utility, spokesman Steve Corson said. If the service line feeding directly into the house is out, it’s PGE’s job to repair.

Damage to a house or home electrical equipment can delay power restoration, Corson said. He said homeowners in some instances will need an electrician to fix such damage before the utility can turn on power.

“One example of that can be the ‘masthead- – the metal conduit that our service line attaches to and runs down to connect to your electric meter, typically coming out of your roof. The masthead is part of your house and belongs to you,” Corson said in an email. He said PGE can help customers diagnose such issues.

About 22,000 Comcast customers remain without internet service in the Salem area as of Tuesday morning, and the company said restoring service follows 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 didn’t experience significant damage to its fiber infrastructure in the Salem area and nearly all of the outages are related to power failures.

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 its internet service.

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

Salem-Keizer schools canceled online classes for Wednesday because of the widespread outages, which have affected many schools as well as teachers and students.

With meal distribution at neighborhood schools on hold, a group of McKay High School teachers set up their own food giveaway Tuesday on the sidewalk next to campus along Wolverine Street Northeast.

Teacher Lisa Cassidy said the group organized because they were concerned families with no power or internet might have missed the memo that school meals were canceled and still needed something to eat.

“We can’t work today anyways because we had no internet,” Cassidy said.

They secured donations from Roth’s on Northeast Lancaster Drive and passed out grocery bags with a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, tortilla chips and salsa to about 30 families, she said.

Local schools will resume offering food to families Thursday, district spokesman Aaron Harada said, though some schools which regularly serve meals may not be able to because of power outages. He said a list of locations for food pickup would be available Wednesday.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

WE GET SALEM THE FACTS. Covering your community with care and depth. Salem Reporter - fair, accurate, independent. Subscribe and support our essential local service.