The snowstorm quieted council and focused the city’s work on shoveling out and restoring services. Monday’s meetings were cancelled; and we had already rescheduled the Wednesday, Feb. 27th meeting to this Wednesday, March 6th, in order to have the full council present to discuss HB 2001 and other issues before the legislature.
I have been in Washington, DC this week on the annual “United Front” trip with partners from Springfield, Lane County, LTD, Springfield Schools and Willamalane Parks presenting our priorities and advocating for support for local projects. The meetings included discussions with the Economic Development Agency about tech investments; the EPA about our brownfields improvements in the Riverfront and Whitaker/Trainsong, HUD to discuss the 15th Night program to assist homeless youth; Transportation to discuss both the Beltline/Delta Hwy and the improvements to Franklin Blvd; and the US Forest Service to discuss our initiatives to protect our urban/wildland interface from disastrous fire.
Throughout all of this, we were tracking the snow crisis in Eugene, Springfield and Lane County. I have received and forwarded to Public Works a number of fearful and frustrated emails from residents in the south hills who are coping with outages for many days in very cold weather. The city and EWEB have made tremendous progress, but that is cold comfort if you are still in the cold and dark. My own family has given me a stark assessment of our household’s emergency preparedness, and the cold days have given me a new urgent checklist of tasks to improve our preparedness for the next one. Although this was the worst snowstorm since 1969 and not business as usual, these dramatic, devastating events are coming with more frequency and we all have work to do to upgrade our resiliency.
That said, our Public Works teams have been heroic; coordination with EWEB has been tight, and the city worked hard to provide emergency shelter for folks living in the cold. Here are a few stats provided by our Public Works Director, Sarah Medary:
Over 250 miles of roadway have been cleared
125 streets have been cleared of tree blockages
Over 300 tree hazards have been investigated and 68 have been mitigated
140 tree hazards have been assigned to our partner tree contractors
7 plows, 2 tree trucks, 9 chainsaw crews, 7 hazard “scouts”, 2 EWEB/City teams inspecting tree/electric issues,
3 vactor trucks, 3 backhoes, and 3 dump trucks clearing catch basins and curb inlets due to flooding as we cycle between ice, then flood response each day.
4 sidewalk teams of 4 have been focused clearing snow from sidewalks and access ramps and our now transitioning to flooding response.
10 AmeriCorps volunteers have been clearing snow from pedestrian bridges and downtown sidewalks. Today they are working in parks and helping make our restrooms accessible.
In addition to this work, we’ve also had teams working around the clock at the Airport clearing runways and keeping them sanded and de-iced and our Wastewater team has maintained full operation at the plant and spent most of their week keeping backup power functioning at each of our pump stations. It’s important to note that our Parks and Open Space teams are just now moving from roadways into our parks system to clear hazards. Spencer Butte and the Ridgeline remain closed until we can inspect for hazards which are certain to exist.