PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After a winter ice storm blanketed the Portland metro area with frigid temps, high wind and snow, officials are warning commuters of potential road hazards amid rainfall.
While the metro area may deal with slushy buildup on roadways, the Portland Bureau of Transportation advises community members to watch out for potential flooding from blocked storm drains, slick roads and possible landslides.
To stay ahead of possible flooding, PBOT is asking community members to help keep storm drains clear as some areas around Portland and southwest Washington see flooded intersections — including water tumbling from the hillside into the road along Highway 30 near Portland’s Linnton neighborhood on Monday.
“You don’t have to necessarily scoop up all that slushy mess if it’s still built up significantly, but if you can clear a pathway for water to flow directly into a storm drain, or culvert, or green street basin, that’s going to make a big difference,” Hannah Schafer of PBOT said. “We know this is an issue as we get into winter months, we see back-to-back storm systems come through our city this is a common occurrence, we’re trying to get ahead of it a little bit.”
Schafer also advises community members to stay safe while clearing drains, noting PBOT will also be available to help.
“We don’t want anyone to do anything that would be unsafe. Don’t lift any grates. Maybe you cleared a blockage of a storm drain but water still isn’t flowing down the way it’s supposed to…those things happen. That’s what our job is for,” Schafer said.
With the rainfall creating slick roads in the area, PBOT reminds commuters to take precautions like driving slowly and with lights on for safety.
Schafer added “we’ve had a pretty heavy year in terms of crashes already, let’s do our best to be safe on the roads, no matter what conditions by slowing down, not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
Along with slick roads, Schafer said PBOT crews are watching for other hazards like landslides.
“We are always watching for landslides; we have crews that keep an eye on those things…we’ve had a couple freeze thaws and we’ve had water coming in,” Schafer said. “The areas that will be coming in will typically be the West Hills, that’s where our soils are less stable, and we see slides more commonly.”
“If you see a hillside where soil is tumbling down or some sort of fissure in the soil itself, private property or property adjacent to our roadway, that’s another reason to give us a call and we’ll advise you on next steps,” Schafer advises.
With winds picking up along the coast and into the Portland area, power companies are also preparing for another round of potential storm damage and urge residents to be ready.
“In some ways, we had not completely stood down from the previous storm,” said Tom Gauntt, a spokesperson with Pacific Power.
Along with high wind comes the possibility for downed limbs and power lines, resulting in widespread outages.
“The extra concern, especially areas just recently hit by ice and other windstorms, sometimes the trees are weakened and the branches more susceptible to winds,” Gauntt said. “In addition, getting some pretty good rain and the snow melt and ice melt, really softens the ground.”
Pacific Power says they still have crews in place in parts of the north coast like Astoria and Lincoln City after responding to last week’s storm. In case of outages, Pacific Power is encouraging customers to stock up on water, batteries and blankets until the power is back on.
In case of flooding or landslides, you can contact PBOT’s 24/7 maintenance line at 503-823-1700. If you spot a downed power line, first call 911, then report it to the local power company, along with any outages. Pacific Power can be reached at 1-877-508-5088 and PGE can be reached at 503-464-7777 or 1-800-544-1795.