Late Season Storm sows minor damage; lots of power outages.

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April Storm causes power outages all over northwest

Heavy winds caused trees to fall and power lines to come down all over the Florence area and the rest of western Lane County this morning.

A wind gust of 92 miles an hour was recorded at Sea Lion Caves before five a.m.  Shortly after that, a gust of 80 miles an hour was recorded at SandPines Golf Links.

The winds toppled the trees and sent utility and public work crews scrambling to assess the situation and make repairs.

At one time, power was out to most areas south of the Siuslaw River, with scattered outages reported in many other outlying areas.  By mid morning, Central Lincoln PUD crews had been able to restore power to many areas south of Florence; as well as at several other scattered outages to the north and east.

Florence Public Works crews spent much of the early morning hours clearing downed trees and flagging downed power lines, as well as making sure storm water runoff was flowing well.

By 8:30 this morning the worst appeared to be over, but several rain squalls and storm cells continue to sweep through the area.

Emergency crews were kept hopping as well, responding to a crash in Mapleton that had Highway 126 blocked or restricted for most of the morning.

Don’t call 911 for power outages

Even with all the wind and rain overnight and this morning, there were no injuries and no significant damage reported.  That’s according to Florence spokesperson Megan Messmer who said high winds brought down several trees on Kingwood Street through the business park.  Work crews were able to clear them away without incident.

Messmer said one major problem came from residents who lost their power and then called 911 to report it.

She said those calls need to be directed to Central Lincoln PUD and by calling emergency operators, residents may have been unintentionally making it more difficult for people who really needed assistance to get it.

911 dispatchers only want to hear from you if you have a true emergency she said.  For power outages you should call the PUD at 866-484-3783.

The Associated Press reported there were more than 100-thousand residential customers in Western Oregon without electricity this morning.

Plover recovery means birds moving north

If you’ve been to the beach near nesting areas for the Western Snowy Plover in the past few weeks, you’ve no doubt seen the ropes and signs marking off those areas.  U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Cindy Burns said those protections have been put in place every year since 1993.  That’s when the bird was placed on the “threatened” list of the endangered species act.

Cindy Burns – “The year prior to listing, surveys could only find 28 of the birds in Oregon.”

In the 23-years since, populations of the small shore-bird have grown.  Now there’s estimated to be more than 500 of them.

Cindy Burns – “With the increase in the population in recent years they are spreading out and they’re finding habitat and State Parks is trying to make habitat on the north coast more suitable for plovers.”

Burns said nesting areas around Florence include the Baker Beach and Sutton Outlet areas to the north; and from Siltcoos Outlet to the south.  Long gone from sites on the northern coast, the birds are starting to reappear in some areas, prompting officials to keep an even sharper eye out for them and instituting protections on public lands where appropriate.

Oregon Beach Bill turning 50

A bill introduced this week to the Oregon Legislature would celebrate the 50th anniversary of Oregon’s Beach Bill by reinvesting in the beaches and recreational facilities at or near it.

State Senator Arnie Roblan says visitors to the coast “represent an estimated $2.4-billion in direct expenditures annually”, adding that as the number of visitors increases, so too does the need for things like public safety, marine debris cleanup and recreational services.

Senate Bill 745 would use a portion of the already existing state lodging tax revenue to fund the Ocean Beach Fund.  Roblan says the money would be used by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to “improve the visitor experience, safety and the necessary resource management”.

Roblan’s bill would not require additional funding, but would re-allocate money already being collected.