Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Really Big Snow

January, 2017

The average annual snowfall in Portland is about 4 inches. So it is a shock to get 14 inches overnight. And because we live on an island with a lot of trees, power lines go down and we are without power. Which means, because we are on well water, that we have no electricity nor running water. On top of that, houseboats float, and when they get weighed down with heavy, wet snow, they start to sink.

That means that while the rest of Portland was mostly shut down with a fun snow day, we moorage folks were going from houseboat to houseboat shoveling snow off people's roofs and decks. Getting snow off the roof is the most dangerous. Tom Hekker, Junior, a professional roofer, and younger than most of us, did the lion's share of that work. But others were up on roofs, too. My next-door neighbor was up on her roof, put her weight down on her wrist and broke it. Another person was trying to tie up a boat to reach the snow on a roof and landed in the frigid river.

Fortunately for us on the moorage, the electricity was out for less than 24 hours. Some of our land neighbors were out of heat and water for days because the top of an electrical pole had broken off and the whole pole needed to be replaced, and Portland General Electric had something like 850 repairs to do and an island with a small population is not a top priority. But after the first day, when all our houseboats were stabilized, I went out to Wapato park, first trying to x-country ski but there were too many fallen-over trees, so then I hiked with neighbors, and we went and visited other neighbors near the park. That part was all lovely.

The snow fell the night of Monday, January 10th, It stayed cold and everything stayed snowy and icy. People with 4WDs got out, but I -- with my tiny un-snow-worthy smartcar -- did not get off the island under the evening of January 19th.

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