Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Multnomah County declares state of emergency

Posted by on December 22nd, 2008 at 5:46 pm

snow scenes from Monday (12-22)-7

SE Main Street on my ride
into work this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Just how bad have things gotten in the Portland region?

I just got this email from Michael Pullen, the Public Information Officer with Multnomah County:

Multnomah County has issued a declaration of emergency to the state of Oregon requesting resources to assist with the response to this week’s winter storm. The declaration was approved by County Chair Ted Wheeler and signed by Sheriff Bob Skipper in his absence.

The declaration was made in response to requests from the cities of Gresham, Troutdale and Wood Village, which are in need of resources to meet public safety needs related to this week’s storm. The declaration requests high clearance vehicles to assist with the transport of personnel in inaccessible areas requiring medical assistance and assistance in clearing roadways into medical clinics and other facilities. The declaration is in effect through January 5, 2009 and applies to all of Multnomah County, so that resources can be requested quickly from the state should they be needed by other jurisdictions in the county.

Multnomah County has provided several 4-wheel drive vehicles to the City of Gresham to assist with emergency response and the state of Oregon has committed additional transportation resources.

See the emergency alert on the County’s website.

*Here’s the full declaration document as a PDF (86kb).

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • Matt Picio December 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Good call on the part of the county. No one in the state is equipped to handle a situation of this magnitude solely with local resources.

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  • SkidMark December 22, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Does Multnomah County or Washington County own any snowplows? I haven’t seen one yet! Where are the plows? Send in the plows. There ought to be plows…

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  • Donna December 22, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Who is going to pay for the plows – and pay to maintain them when we’re not using them, SkidMark?

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  • A-dub December 22, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I’ve seen plenty of plows and my local street in Tigard has been plowed each day. The city of Portland is a different story as non-arterial streets have yet to be plowed and are difficult to navigate in cars with lower clearance. Be glad you aren’t trying to travel by plane, train or bus…

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  • Sarah C December 22, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I walked from near Emanuel Hospital to New Seasons today and saw quite a few plows. They were working on Skidmore, Ainsworth and Albina near the park. It was also obvious that Williams, Vancouver and Interstate had been plowed. The thing is that they are able to scrape it completely clean so you still need to deal with snow.

    I agree with Donna – it does not make sense to own a bunch more plows. When did the city or county really need them last? I am from Ohio and one of the things that helps there (besides the use of salt) is that a lot of private citizens own plows. In my parent’s neighborhood they hire a local guy to plow their driveway and he usually does a lot of the neighborhood also.

    The scariest thing to me was the number of cars with improperly installed chains that were driving around. I was waiting for one to snap off and go flying. The funniest thing is someone trying to drive a sedan through two feet of piled up snow. Especially when you are pulling away from the curb (and starting from 0) it will not work.

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  • Nichoals December 22, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I saw about 8 snowplows right after each other hit 405 the other night. Quite the spectacle as the rolled on by.

    Besides that, I’ve seen one of those heavy construction things running the max lines flattening the snow for the max on the downtown side. Might be called a cat, but I don’t know for sure.

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  • A-dub December 22, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I too have seen the snowplow caravan and it is rather awe inspiring.

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  • chuck December 22, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    they probably work a little better when they’re a little more spread out.

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  • Donna December 22, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I am so glad to hear someone else say it, Sarah C – some of the commenters on the Oregonian site would have everyone believe that every single street and alleyway gets plowed and salted when there is snow back east. We know that’s just not true. We had the same sort of guy with a big truck and plow attachment dig us out because the city where I lived in Michigan couldn’t be bothered.

    In fact, I hear via the family of one of one of my employees that some of the road conditions in parts of New York are just as bad as here because they have no public money to salt and plow the roads. The state of New York is on the verge of bankruptcy and many states back east aren’t far behind them.

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  • Paul December 22, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    The main arterials are pretty clear in SE. I skied in to the Lloyd District and Hawthorne, Belmont, Stark, Burnside and Sandy had all been plowed this evening. The surface was still packed snow – but decent.

    Skiing on the bike boulevards is a winner!

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  • BikerinNE December 22, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    The city of Portland doesn’t plow every street, they plow secondary and primary streets as needed. Chain up if you drive, and walk otherwise. 2 weeks from now, most will be complaining about gravel.

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  • BikerinNE December 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Also, the county has a state of emergency and now KATU stopped there 24 7 coverage. What the hell???? Katu is slipping…

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  • Caroline December 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I’ve noticed that roads that rich people live and shop on are plowed. Sorry, had to be said…

    It’s a great way to plan your rides, though.

    Another thought: be nice and check on your elderly and/or ill neighbors. Shovel their walkways.

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  • SkidMark December 22, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Donna, the only thing snow specific is the plow itself, not the whole truck. it should be a function of Public Works, something the city does for it’s residents, along for other types of road maintenence. Who clears the snow in other cities in Oregon? Do you think the roads in Bend go unplowed?

    I grew up in Rockland, Massachusetts. I lived on a side street, and when it snowed it got plowed. Sometimes not until the afternoon but it did get plowed. This is in a tiny little town and not a big city like Portland or Beaverton.

    Sorry but after living in Massachusetts and MPLS. Minnesota it seems ridiculous for this small amount of snow to bring a city to it’s knees.

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  • Donna December 22, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Well, of course that makes sense in Bend, MA, and MN – they get snowfall like this regularly every winter. They also have the property tax rates to show for it. You go ahead and propose tax increases to pay for snow maintenance due to weather that happens once per year at most and see where it gets you.

    When was the last time you remember snow like this here? I’ve been here 12 years and have seen nothing like it. I’ve talked to people who have been here far longer and they say the same.

    If you think that’s a worthwhile and cost-effective expenditure of taxpayer dollars, well, you’re certainly entitled to that opinion. Just don’t try to take my money to do it, thanks very much.

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  • SkidMark December 23, 2008 at 1:40 am

    It seems to me that the City employees who drive the trucks would be working anyways, doing things they normally do when it’s not snowing, so I don’t see what the added expenditure would be, beyond a snowplow and the hydraulic unit to operate it. I don’t think it’s odd for a city that you can see snow-capped mountains from to be able to handle a few inches of snow. I’ve lived here only 6 years but it did snow here about 2 years ago, and it was the same ridiculous fiasco. According to the TV stations the last time there was snow like this was 40 years ago, are you aware of 50 year storm cycles, and climate change, for that matter? Maybe it’s time to invest in some snow removal equipment. How much revenue is being lost because people can’t go to work and can’t go shopping? How many people aren’t getting paid because the place they work at is closed? Is that OK? If the roads were clear it would only improve things for everyone. I guess all you care about is your own bottom line and paying a little more property tax, meanwhile all the working class scum can suffer.

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  • Donna December 23, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Well that’s the problem, SkidMark – we can’t use property taxes for that. They’re capped and can only be used for specific purposes. I believe to change that involves a change to the state constitution. For that matter, working class scum (like me) pay property taxes, too. It’s called rent and I am quite confident that the landlords would pass any such increases along to their tenants. No way they’d take that burden.

    As I am sure you know, we’re currently having some serious issues with our income tax base in this state because of all the layoffs that have happened and all the job loss that will come in the next year. If you’re proposing to raise income taxes during a severe recession, I guess you’re in favor of prolonging recessions? That’s the only other tax revenue source we have in this state.

    So, if you’re still in favor of all that money for what is normally one or two days per year, I wish you the best of luck with that idea when so many people are losing their jobs.

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  • canuck December 23, 2008 at 8:27 am

    No those trucks and employees would not be used the same amount without the snow.

    When was the last time a City of Portland truck ran 24 hours straight? When was the last time every driver was working 24 hours straight? That’s what happens when snow falls. The plows run until the roads are cleared.

    That means extra cost for fuel employee overtime, sand, and de-icer. That adds up fast and eats up the budget.

    The winter of 2007/2008 brought 100+ inches of snow to Madison Wisconsin. They burned through their budget, they ran out of salt for the roads. The weather is not a constant and trying to budget for it is almost impossible.

    Even cities that deal with winter weather every year have the same budgetary problems.

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  • SkidMark December 23, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    You’re the one who brought up property taxes, Donna, so now you are contradicting yourself.

    8 hours a day for the past 3 days would be 24 hours of plowing, which would be more than has been done, at least where I live, which is no further out than Gresham, just in the opposite direction.

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  • steve December 23, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Renters do not pay property taxes. Rent rarely covers 70 percent of the owners mortgage.

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  • Hart December 23, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    You guys do realize that the plows are detachable and the trucks can be used for anything any other city purpose when it is not snowing, right?

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  • SkidMark December 23, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I rode into the city today,saw a fair amount of plows, especially downtown, and didn’t have that much trouble on my (fixed gear) mountain bike. Public transit is fairly overloaded, but the MAX is running regularly. Out where I live conditions are worse, but I live in Washington County. Unfortunately there is no bikebeaverton.org for me to post on.

    The funny thing is my original post was a bad pun on the song “Send in the Clowns” that somehow got taken (way too) seriously. Well, maybe next year…

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  • just me December 23, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    state of emergency? holy cow…………i feel like i’m back in chicago

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  • Anonymous December 24, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Do you realize that a plow costs $8-$10K and that the trucks have to be equipped with a PTO (Power Take Off) to integrate with the hydraulics of the plow.

    Most likely the trucks do not have a PTO and would need to be retro-fitted.

    For an event that occurs once every 10 years is it worth buying this equipment and having it sit around and deteriorate?

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  • Brian December 24, 2008 at 10:27 am

    my fam just drove back from san fransico and had no prob navigating any of 1-5 or any of the other streets and we where driving a two wheel drive KIA. but i was luaghing my ass of at all the stupid people that had chains that where lifting a good inch away from the tire when they where driving. haha, stupid people

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  • Emy December 24, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I HATE the gravel… it always ends up in the bike lanes and can be SO dangerous for us Bikers..

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  • Hart December 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Every ten years? It’s snowed every day for a week. That’s seven times in one year.

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