On Saturday, Jan. 13, residents were on alert for a winter storm poised to hit the Willamette Valley to include Sweet Home. This storm promised even those in the lower elevations were going to see some nasty weather.
Over the course of the weekend the precipitation continued to fall leaving a thick covering of ice over the town when folks woke up Sunday morning. There were many power outages, trees down and obstacles for everyone to overcome, but they did so in true Sweet Home spirit.
Folks took to Facebook when in need, hoping for someone, anyone, to come help. Some were needing groceries, gas for generators or just some assistance getting around. Residents responded in what became a community effort to ensure everyone was safe and sound.
One such call for help came from Frank and Becky Hills. Their stepdaughter, Tasha Webb, made a post asking if anyone had any gas or a chainsaw because her parents were trapped with five trees down and were about to run out of gas for their generator. Her parents live in Holley off Highway 228.
According to reports, within 15 minutes of the post, action was underway. Hills said, "Yea it was really cool, we had like 10 trees down and we didn't have a chainsaw or gas. I called my step daughter Tasha Webb and it wasn't long before folks everyone showed up to help," Hills said.
Levi Wood, who lives in Sweet Home, was already out working when his wife told him of the Hills' predicament. He quickly showed up and began the work needed to help them out.
Upon arrival Wood got busy cutting trees and removing debris. He was helped out by two other nearby neighbors who joined in the effort. "The neighbor showed up to help us with a tractor," he said. "They were moving debris and cleaning up as we were taking out the trees."
Wood said all in all they removed about 10-15 downed trees and cleaned out any that would possibly present a problem down the road.
"I basically went up and cut trees," he explained. "They really just needed a chainsaw but we stayed around to help take care of the issue."
The Hills family was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and assistance from his neighbors. "It was just awesome, everything they did! They got done pretty quick," Hills said, "and then my neighbor made us a driveway so we were able to go out and get our gas needed for the generator."
Hills said when they woke up to so many trees downed, the family didn't know what to do, but they were glad they reached out to their stepdaughter because it really paid off.
"We just want to thank everyone for their help. Levi and Matt were amazing, they really helped us out when we needed it. We can't thank them enough," Hills said.
Wood said everyone was out helping wherever he looked and whenever they could. "It's really been a busy weekend but everyone has been really helpful."
The Hills are doing well now thanks to the efforts of the community. Hills said they had been without power since Saturday evening. It was restored on Sunday but went back out again later that evening around 1:30 a.m. Fortunately since then the power has been restored.
Hills reports the family is feeling really good about the upcoming ice predicted to start falling again. His main concerns for that weather event are for power outages.
According to the National Weather service reports at the time of print, Sweet Home is due to receive more ice starting Tuesday with temperatures not going above freezing again until Wednesday.
The Oregon Department Of Transportation (ODOT) said crews will continue working around the clock to keep highways open and reopen those closed by ice and downed trees and power lines across Oregon. They warn with another round coming, however, to be prepared and stay home whenever possible to avoid accidents.
Fortunately though, Sweet Home's got this, they're resilient and ready to take on whatever mother nature brings their way as they've proven throughout the storm that was just endured.
ODOT Gives Tips For
Winter Travel Safety
For the latest state highway information and to see current closures, visit Tripcheck.com. For the latest weather, visit the National Weather Service website.
If you must travel, be prepared.
Safety is our priority – for travelers and our road crews. If you decide to travel, plan extra time for your journey and carry emergency supplies. Delays and closures are happening statewide. Expect to encounter chain restrictions.
If you must travel, carry chains – even if you have traction tires or four-wheel-drive – plenty of fuel, snacks and blankets in case of delays. Some highways have reached the point where chains are required regardless of four-wheel-drive.
Give snowplows and emergency crews extra space to do their work, and never pass a snowplow on the right. Our crews are working hard to clear roads, but their job becomes more difficult when disabled cars and trucks block traffic.
With power lines down, traffic signals may be off-line. Treat traffic signals that aren't working like a four-way stop. Never drive over downed power lines.
For more winter weather driving tips, you can also see their winter travel news packet available for free on ODOT's website.