Finally the storm came, and all the skeptics must have been sorry that they did not stock up ahead of time. It lasted three long days of winds up to 140 up in the hills and 85 mph whipping through the towns. Downtown Astoria’s businesses lost windows, sucked out by the vacuum of the wind, and all over Northwest Oregon and our Peninsula groves of trees splintered and toppled, roofs and siding blew off, and power went out for four to seven days. In our case, four was bad enough. I especially pined for the internet. Until the storm finally ceased and the tiresome roaring winds died down, it was too dangerous to go out and check on the damage. We were in a land of mystery, cut off from the outside world with neither landline nor cell telephone service and all the roads in and out blocked by fallen trees. KMUN radio station in Astoria kept broadcasting with a generator but had no news of our side of the river because no one could cross the bridge. I read the new Dick Francis by a good lantern flashlight and grimly waited it out, expecting one of the tall trees that lean over our house to fall on us at any moment.
When finally we emerged, the damage was impressive. I felt kind of vulture-like taking photos of people’s woeful upended fences and trees. Our friend J9 and Jill had lived in New Orleans and told us they had found it worse than southern hurricanes, as it lasted for such a long time.
trees down at Seaview Solstice house
At Solstice House, three large trees came down perfectly lined up to miss the house and the fence.
At Sea Nest, the driftwood temple which my former partner, Robert, built some years ago had imploded inward, and at the Tinker House near Jo’s garden, the glass of the patio shelter shattered. (Allan repaired the temple but was not able to re-incorporate all the pieces because of breakage and splintering.)
by Jo’s garden
Jo’s fence and garden took a beating, and broken styrofoam bits had been swirled out a neighbour’s storage shed and scattered everywhere like snowdrifts. Other neighbours will have some sawing to do because of a tree down over their stairway.
Along Sandridge Road on the Willapa Bay side of the Peninsula, entire groves of trees were mangled and splintered into heaps. Along all the roads we saw this, but nowhere as dramatically as around 220th and Sandridge.
trees down along Sandridge Road
We visited all of our gardens, and other than the temple at Seanest found little heartbreaking damage. Two clients and friends had chain link fences yanked high into the air by massive fallen tree rootballs. Laurie’s house was deserted, the battery backup sadly bleating while the she and her dogs and horses were all gone to more friendly climes, perhaps. [Later she told me they had loaded the horses up and driven to somewhere safer …I seem to recall she might have taken the horses to The Red Barn …when she saw that the sky was a strange colour, almost orange, and truly believed the storm would be serious.] Denny at KBC was forlorn and lonely because Mary was stranded up in Silverdale and could not drive back for three days.,,nor could he get any word to her that the cabins had not blown away. We found him (he who had been skeptical) ruefully burning downed timber. The fish he had caught in Alaska in early summer had thawed in the power outage. Later we learned Seattle news had had very little coverage of the storm, so Mary was unable to get much news. Our friend J9 had a tree down on a power line, and she and Jill were without power for days longer than we were. Allan, having cleverly filled the gas tank the day before, had enough fuel to motor all over the Pensinsula till the pumps were working again, so rather than begin our staycation as planned we spent the next week picking up debris and propping the plants back upright again. I am grateful for Allan’s childhood camping skills which enabled us to have hot coffee and warm meals! I would have been chewing raw coffee beans. Which reminds me, you cannot grind coffee beans without electricity, so remember to grind them the night before the storm. Fortunately, when the local store opened with a generator we were able to get some ground beans (and more chocolate). By the second day, the store was well picked over and had one loaf of bread on the shelf and was giving away free melted ice cream. Allan took three quarts and, I believe, managed to eat two of them!
Update, 2015: For more photos of storm damage, Google “Great Coastal Gale”. A particularly dramatic story is about the Uppertown Net Loft art studio in Astoria. Another good article covering the storm is in the local paper, the Chinook Observer. A few days after the storm, we drove through the Surf Pines beach-side neighbourhood near Gearhart, Oregon. Locals were now calling it Surf Pine because of all the trees down. The skyline of Astoria changed as groves of trees on the ridge over town had been felled by the storm.
Read Full Post »