Local News That Matters

UPDATES: 48,000 remain without power, Salem opens yard debris sites

February 17, 2021 at 5:56pm

Following winter storms, Oregon Department of Justice taking price-gouging complaints

Ice-damaged trees in the Grant neighborhood of Salem on Saturday, Feb. 13. (Sam Skillern photo)

In response to reports of hotels charging exorbitant prices to people left without electricity after snowstorms, Gov. Kate Brown has issued an executive order intended to curb price gouging. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Brown declared an “abnormal market disruption” because of snow and ice storms that created emergency conditions in nine Oregon counties, including Marion and Polk. The governor’s order gives the Oregon Department of Justice power to investigate and take action against businesses that increase prices by 15% or more on goods after the disruption.

“During a time when so many Oregonians have been without power for days, it is absolutely unacceptable to price gouge those who are seeking a warm, safe place to stay until power is back on in their homes,” said Brown in a statement. 

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also issued a statement signaling she would crack down on price-gougers. Oregonians who suspect they’ve been price-gouged can file a complaint through the Oregon Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 877-877-9392. More information can be found at www.OregonConsumer.gov

So far, the Salem area, which has been battered by the weather, has generated no complaints, according to Kristina Edmunson, spokeswoman for the department.

-Jake Thomas

February 17, 2021 at 5:31pm

Salem-Keizer cancels school for Thursday, Feb. 18; district offices open

Salem-Keizer schools will be closed for the third day in a row on Feb. 18, though school meal pick-up will resume.

All online classes and in-person activities are canceled as tens of thousands in the Salem area remain without power. The closure includes preschool and athletics, the district said.

District offices will be open.

About 25% of the district's employees are still without power, internet or both, district spokesman Aaron Harada said.

-Rachel Alexander

February 17, 2021 at 4:42pm

Video shows train smashing into semi-truck at intersection of 12th and Center Street

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

A dash cam video published on YouTube shows how a semi-truck drove onto train tracks as the railroad crossing arms were going down at the intersection of 12th and Court Street before it was struck by a train Tuesday morning.

The video, posted by Sean Smith, shows the semi-truck go through a crossing arm around 8:45 a.m. and then reverse.

Then, a train smashes into the trailer part of the rig. 

Watch the video here.

Warning: There is explicit language in this video.

-Saphara Harrell

February 17, 2021 at 2:47pm

PGE says 90% of Oregon customers will have power back by Friday night

A Salem Electric crewman works to repair a power line in west Salem on Sunday, Feb. 14. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Update, 4:50 p.m. - Portland General Electric said 90% of Oregon customers without power will be restored by Friday night, one week after many in the Salem area saw the lights go out.

"For the remaining 10%, due to the significant damage and access challenges, we expect that it will take several more days," Larry Bekkedahl , PGE vice president of grid architecture, integration & systems operations, said in a statement.

Original story:

Portland General Electric has finished repairing substations damaged in ice storms over the past week and has nearly completed repairing transmission lines.

Those efforts will speed the push to restore power to the approximately 150,000 customers in Oregon with lights out, said Maria Pope, PGE's chief executive officer, in a press call Wednesday. But company officials said they still can't provide estimates for when people can expect power to return.

As of 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, Marion County had 46,730 PGE customers without power, and Polk County had 1,544, according to the company's outage map.

"We are fully focusing our efforts on repairing or distribution feeders and lines, to be able to get power from our generation sources to homes and businesses. We are prioritizing public safety, and infrastructure repairs to hospitals, elder care homes critical services, including water treatment facilities, and then we will turn our attention to restoring the largest number of customers at a time," Pope said.

The company has restored power to 490,000 customers since the storms began last week, Pope said, but has been challenged by further ice damage and falling trees at times knocking power back out after restoration.

PGE has a new page on its website for people to see how many crews are working in their area and get answers to common questions.

-Rachel Alexander

February 17, 2021 at 2:19pm

Salem-Keizer schools will resume grab-and-go meals Thursday

Bags are set up for school meal assembly at the Salem-Keizer Career Technical Education Center on Nov. 24 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Local schools will resume passing out meals to-go for students on Thursday after widespread power outages halted food distribution earlier this week.

Meals are available at schools from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and at other neighborhood drop-off sites from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A complete list is available on the Salem-Keizer School District website.

Because of power outages, meals will not be available until further notice at five elementary schools which normally serve as distribution sites: Battle Creek, Grant, Englewood, Lamb and Hayesville.

-Rachel Alexander

February 17, 2021 at 10:45am

More than 48,000 in Marion and Polk counties remain without power

A scene in south Salem on Saturday, Feb. 13, as the ice storm eased. (Joni Brewer photo)

There are more than 48,000 Portland General Electric customers and 40 Salem Electric customers still without power in Marion and Polk counties.

On Monday, PGE's website stopped displaying estimates for when customers would see their power restored. The utility company cited the complex nature of the repairs, which involve generating stations, transmission lines and substations.

More 3,000 PGE workers are trying to restore power statewide, according to PGE’s website.

Britni Davidson, member services manager at Salem Electric, said the remaining 40 homes without power first need an electrician to make repairs before crews can restore service.

A list of Marion and Polk county ZIP codes still affected by outages can be found on PGE's website.

Salem is opening tree and woody debris drop-off locations at Woodmansee, Wallace, Geer and McKay parks starting Wednesday. The service is free and residents can deliver debris everyday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cities around Marion County also have yard debris drop-offs.

Locations include:

Aumsville - Recology: 8712 Aumsville Hwy. S.E. M-F 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Keizer – Little League Park: 5245 Ridge Dr. N.E. Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Silverton - Oregon Garden: 879 W. Main St.

Stayton – Mill Creek Park: 2800 Kindle Way S.E. (Temporarily Closed)

Turner – Lake Parking lot: 6185 Turner Lake Road

Woodburn – Legion Park: 1385 Park Ave.

Previous coverage:

Salem residents can drop debris at four city parks starting Wednesday

“You can do more damage than the storm.” Foresters urge caution when assessing tree damage

Despite damage caused by snow storm, Enchanted Forest still aims to open March 19

-Saphara Harrell