Photo of Ted CaseAs evidenced by our feature story this month, this winter tested the strength of the Oregon rural electric program like I have not seen before, at least for two western Oregon cooperatives: Douglas Electric and Lane Electric.

Our brethren in the Southeast batten down the hatches every hurricane season, but we rarely see Mother Nature unleash the type of fury she brought in the form of a snowstorm that crushed ancient fir trees as if they were saplings.

There is no way to prepare for countless giant trees crashing into power lines, rendering roads and highways impassable and impeding the ability to even assess the damage.

When the power went out in places such as Oakridge and Elkton, it became abundantly clear there would be no quick fix, and co-op members needed to settle in for the long haul.

How these systems were rebuilt requires more space than I have in this column, but it was a total team effort involving linemen from throughout the state, as well as tree trimmers, excavators, flaggers and every staff person from these co-ops working at peak effort.

I closely followed the updates from both co-ops and thought they were the model for how to communicate during a crisis. Co-op members want and deserve the straight scoop. They may not like hearing that the outage could go on for three weeks, but at least they know where they stand.

As a result, the support from co-op members was overwhelmingly positive, despite the hardship. In a day and age when most of us get annoyed when our Wi-Fi is down for a few minutes, the storm of 2019 gives us hope that patience, resilience and a sense of community are alive and well in rural Oregon.

Ted Case
Executive Director