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Lane County’s priority: Clearing downed trees and opening roads

Two men clear large trees off a road
Ethan H.
Lane County Road Maintenance

As the region continues to recover from recent ice storms, Lane County officials say their top priority is clearing downed trees and opening roads so people can get supplies.

Lane County spokesperson Devon Ashbridge said crews have seen the most tree damage in Jasper, Marcola, and the lower McKenzie River. And, she told KLCC, in the McKenzie area, getting gas is an issue.

“With widespread power outages, it also limits the ability for people to get fuel," she explained. "There has to be electricity into the gas station in order for them to pump gas. So we know it has been challenging for folks, not just upriver but in other areas where they’ve been out of power for a couple of days, to get fuel.”

Ashbridge said the fire station in Leaburg and the Marcola Elementary School gym are open as warming centers.

She cautioned, even as the county sees higher temperatures, it may take a few days for ice to melt, especially in protected areas where the build-up was several inches thick.

As to why the county hasn't been plowing roads, a recent Lane County Facebook post said, "plows don’t work on ice and the roads are mostly ice right now. We are sanding hills and corners, but it still requires people to slow down and drive cautiously. We are using de-icer on our priority routes as much as we can, but it is slow to melt the ice given how much has formed."

Some Lane County services have been affected by the storm. For the latest information, see the service updates page on the county’s website.

Meanwhile, Lane County Commissioners held a virtual meeting Tuesday evening in which they declared a state of emergency.

 Jeff Kincaid, interim emergency manager for Lane County, said the declaration makes the region eligible for relief funds if the governor, and the president also declare an emergency.

 “This has had severe impacts across the region, it’s had far reaching implications, the ability to deliver supplies, fuel shortages, folks that are trying to get required medical treatment having difficulties getting there," he said. "We've seen it across the county. There are very few regions that weren't hit with this.”

The declaration will also empower the county administrator to quickly make contracts for cleanup and relief efforts, and bypass some procurement rules to quickly buy supplies.

County leaders urged those who can to stay off the roads to stay home until the weather improves.

For the latest closings in the KLCC listening area, visit our  Closings page.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.
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