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News Release: City of Portland cleanup continues from historic winter storms; check updates for water, sewer, transportation, parks impacts and resources

News article

(Feb. 26, 2021) The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and other city agencies continue to clean up from the historic Presidents Day Weekend winter storms that covered the city with as much as 10 inches of snow and .75 inches of ice. 

Published

To ensure access for emergency services, PBOT crews worked in 24-hour operations for nine consecutive days, from Feb. 10 to 19. Driving snowplows, salt and sand spreaders and support vehicles, PBOT crews: 

  • Drove collectively 95,476 miles -- equivalent to driving from Portland to Miami, Florida roundtrip, more than more than 14 times! 
  • Spread more than 30,000 gallons of magnesium chloride liquid de-icer 
  • Placed 324 cubic yards of road salt and 425 cubic yards of a salt and gravel mix to ensure emergency routes were clear 

Ready for next time?

Some came to work, even as their homes were without power, or were obstructed by downed trees. COVID-19 pandemic health requirements presented further challenges. 

"The round-the-clock response by PBOT crews and colleagues helped the City cope with this emergency and get our communities back on their feet," said Jo Ann Hardesty, Commissioner-in-Charge of PBOT. "I want to thank you personally, on behalf of everyone in City government, and on behalf of all residents of Portland for your tireless work during the recent snow and ice storms that struck Portland. To accomplish so much, so quickly, while working long hours and in such hostile conditions deserves acknowledgement and praise. I am proud to be the Commissioner-in-Charge of a work force of such dedicated public servants." 

Beware of gravel on busy streets: After winter storms, PBOT deploys streets sweepers to pick up gravel from affected streets. Cleanup is slow. PBOT sweepers travel at only 3 mph to pick up gravel, a fraction of the speed from when we lay it down. Please be patient as we work our way through our routes. We recover as much as 75% of the gravel we lay down for reuse. 

Be ready for the next storm: Sign up for alerts and news releases from PBOT and for Public Alerts from the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) for a variety of emergencies. 

Replenish supplies: What did you need that you didn’t have? Replenish supplies like ice melter. Buy a snow shovel. Exchange contact info with neighbors for mutual support. See more tips on winter emergencies from PBOT, learn about other city resources and get tips from PBEM for a variety of emergencies

City bureaus offer these updates and advisories to the public

Nearly 750 downed or damaged trees in public streets citywide

Trees are essential to the City, to public health, to wildlife, and to addressing the climate crisis. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Urban Forestry crews continue to clean up from the most impactful winter storm in decades. PP&R is working to resolve nearly 750 tree emergencies in public streets citywide, with many more issues in parks and other city-owned or managed properties.

Portland Parks & Recreation crews are prioritizing removing unstable trees and limbs on and near public roads, before moving on to tree issues in other public spaces. Call 503-823-TREE to report tree emergencies on public streets or sidewalks and visit Portland Trees for information on tree regulations.

PP&R responds to emergencies related to trees blocking or threatening to fall in public streets, but the maintenance of street trees in Portland is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner per City Code. Consult the City’s Local Tree Care Providers list for experienced, licensed and certified arborist companies who have PP&R training and can advise on requirements or obtain the necessary permits.

For more information about trees in the storm aftermath, please visit portland.gov/parks/news/2021/2/24/portland-parks-recreation-advice-winter-storm-aftermath 

Where to put yard debris from storm damage

Help keep storm drains and the public right-of-way clear by picking up broken branches and yard debris and putting them in your green Portland Composts bin. You can set out extra bundles or bags of yard debris with your green bin for $3.75 each. If leaves and branches from storm drains or the street are mixed with trash or oil, please put them in your garbage bin. Find more information about how to set out extra yard debris, including weight and size limits at: www.portland.gov/bps/garbage-recycling/residential-compost-tips 

Keep green street planters clear of debris 

The City has received reports of yard debris clogging green street planters. These curbside rain gardens must remain clear to collect rainwater and prevent street flooding. Members of the public are welcome to volunteer to maintain green streets by becoming a Green Street Steward.  
www.portlandoregon.gov/BES/greenstreetsteward 

Repairing damage to buildings from February 2021 ice storm

The Bureau of Development Services is prepared to assist customers who need to repair their buildings due to damage from the February 2021 ice storm.

Some repair and replacement work may not require a permit. Repair work that requires a permit will be expedited. We are here to answer your questions so you can get your building repaired as quickly as possible.

Please send your questions via email to BDSCustomerSuccess@portlandoregon.gov.

If a permit is required for the repair work, download a permit application and submit it to BDSCustomerSuccess@portlandoregon.gov no later than Aug. 31, 2021, to qualify for expedited review of your application and permit.

Be aware of Water Main Breaks Season 

Winter weather causes rapid changes in water and soil temperatures. This can stress pipes and cause them to break. The Portland Water Bureau’s Maintenance and Construction crews respond to emergencies, including water main breaks, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Crews respond to approximately 200 main breaks a year. 

During and after a main break: Those near a main break may notice a reduction in water pressure or have their water temporarily shut off during the repair. Some may also experience discolored water. This is from sediment that is always in our pipes getting stirred up during a main break. Visit our discolored water page for guidance.  

Call the Water Quality Line from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday at 503-823-7525. Report water emergencies, including suspected main breaks, to the Water Bureau’s 24-hour Emergency Line at 503-823-4874

More than 20 sewage releases prevented during pump station outages; four addressed

With widespread power outages starting Feb. 15, Environmental Services crews responded to multiple disruptions at pump stations, inspecting or restoring service via backup generators and other repairs.

They  prevented spills at more than 20 locations, and addressed sewage releases to the Willamette River from four locations. The sewage releases, totaling about 500,000 gallons, lasted between a half-hour to 30 hours ending on February 16. During that time, steep icy roads and downed trees prevented crews from reaching the four affected stations – a cluster of three pump stations in the Dunthorpe area of SW Portland a fourth near the St. Johns Bridge in N Portland.

The City has 98 pump stations that send sewage to the City’s treatment plants, and are served by backup generators on site, or portable generators.

Environmental Services continues to assess the conditions of pump stations and other parts of the city system for possible storm damage. https://www.portland.gov/bes/news/2021/2/15/advisory-power-outages-occur-four-sewage-pump-stations-sewage-release-possible 

Public Information Officer contacts: 

Environmental Services (sewer, stormwater, and green street planters): Diane Dulken, 503-457-7636 Diane.dulken@portlandoregon.gov   

Portland Water Bureau PIO Phone: 503-823-8064 

Planning & Sustainability (yard debris, garbage): Christine Llobregat, 503-298-0199, christine.llobregat@portlandoregon.gov 

Portland Parks & Recreation (trees, parks): Mark Ross, 503-823-6634, Mark.ross@portlandoregon.gov 

Bureau of Development Services (buildings): Ken Ray, 503-865-6236, ken.ray@portlandoregon.gov  

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The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at portland.gov/transportation