Nine days without power: My ice storm story as an EWEB customer and employee
While beautiful and peaceful, buying a home on the edge of the forest and surrounded by trees has its tradeoffs. Moving “upriver,” I knew there would be more threats to prepare for, including Mother Nature’s seasonal surprises.Find Out More
Preparation and Resilience: How EWEB Maintained Water Service During Recent Ice Storm
Learn about the projects and people that helped EWEB keep water flowing throughout the extreme weather event.Find Out More
EWEB achieves power restoration milestone over the weekend
Crews have so far restored power for 92% of customers who originally lost power at the height of the ice storm.Find Out More
Reenergized McKenzie River Valley transmission lines allow EWEB crews to restore power upriver
On Friday, a majority of EWEB crews tackled power restoration efforts upriver, after federally managed transmission lines were reenergized Thursday.Find Out More
EWEB estimates one week to complete power system restoration
On Wednesday, EWEB crews restored power for about 10,000 customers by repairing large equipment first.Find Out More
Second round of ice and ensuing thaw prompt mass power outages
On Wednesday, all EWEB crews, who have been working nonstop since Saturday, traversed EWEB’s service territory assessing the damage and restoring transmission lines and main power feeders.Find Out More
Power restored at EWEB’s water treatment plant
Crews restored electric power at EWEB's Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant Monday evening, allowing operators to switch off the generators and rely again on the grid. Meanwhile, EWEB crews brace for additional outages amidst second round of ice and during the coming thaw.Find Out More
EWEB crews focusing on restoring electric service for Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant
With more ice forecasted for Tuesday, all EWEB crews are in the field assessing outages and restoring power.Find Out More
EWEB crews making downed lines safe and restoring power across Eugene and the foothills
As EWEB works to restore electric service to customers affected by the ice storm, the customer-owned utility is following established policies and its “hierarchy of repair” to prioritize repairs that restore electric service to the greatest number of customers.Find Out More
Leaburg Decommissioning Action Plan
Plan details next steps through regulatory processes to begin dismantling Leaburg Dam by 2032.Find Out More
What’s ahead in 2024: General manager’s message to EWEB customer-owners
At the start of the new year, we back at accomplishments from 2023 and look ahead at what's to come in 2024.Find Out More
Currin Substation: End of year update
EWEB Engineer Philip Peterson explains what's been happening in the final stretch to complete the substation rebuild.Find Out More
EWEB 2023 year in review
In 2023, EWEB invested in our community with grants, rebates and an array of other programs and measures aimed at fulfilling our core values of safety, reliability, affordability, environmental responsibility and community/culture.Find Out More
EWEB Recognized with Excellence in Communications Awards from American Public Power Association
We are proud to have been recognized with two Excellence in Public Power Communications Awards for 2023 from the American Public Power Association (APPA).Find Out More
Let's talk turkey. If a disaster strikes, is your family ready?
Many of us avoid discussing politics over the dinner table in the spirit of family peace and harmony. But here's a topic that can bring everyone together: emergency preparedness.Find Out More
- Show More
Firewood program in Blue River helps Holiday Farm Fire survivors stay warm
January 25, 2023 • Rachael McDonald, EWEB Communications
The fire swept through the McKenzie River Valley, burning more than 173,000 acres, hundreds of homes, and 25 miles of McKenzie River frontage. The McKenzie is currently the sole source of drinking water for 200,000 people in Eugene. Since the fire, it has been under threat from carbon, nutrients, metals, various chemical contaminants and sediment from burned and eroded slopes entering the river. As the community recovers, EWEB and our Pure Water Partners have been working on watershed protection and restoration projects, including helping people clear out the downed and dead trees and brush to reduce the fuels for a potential future fire.
Lara Colley with McKenzie Watershed Council, which collaborates with EWEB in Pure Water Partners, proposed the firewood program.
“We were chipping a lot of large wood and logs on the properties we were working on in Pure Water Partners,” Colley said. “And I had been reading about a program in Wallowa County where they had a free firewood program to benefit residents in the community.”
Colley herself lives within the fire’s footprint.
“And, personally, we lost our firewood in the fire and I knew other people who heated with wood, who had lost their wood,” said Colley. “So, I had the idea that we could start firewood program to deal with all of this wood that was coming off of properties.”
“I have an old-time wood stove in this little unit. I stay in a little studio, but it heats this place great,” said Dennis Mortimer as he stacked wood in a carport, rain pounding on the roof.
Dennis Mortimer escaped the fire running in his slippers and lost his home. He’s currently staying on friends’ property near Rainbow. On this rainy morning, he just got two cords of firewood. Brink’s Land Improvement – a contractor helping with the fuel mitigation work – delivered it aged, split and ready to go in Mortimer’s wood stove.
“It's been essential for a lot of people here, not just myself, but it's been very essential,” said Mortimer. “I know a lot of people are taking advantage of it and having it split-- I'm getting a little older in years now, and I know a lot of other people that can't get out and do the work. It's just been, like I say, essential to the to the area.”
Mortimer said he’s encouraged friends and neighbors who need the firewood to sign up for the program.
Jeff Brink delivered the wood to Mortimer. He’s with Brink’s Land Improvement which is a sponsor of the firewood program.
They split the wood at the Three Sisters Meadow, next to the McKenzie track in Blue River. The property is currently owned and stewarded by McKenzie River Trust.
Brink said they deliver the firewood to those who can’t come to the yard.
“To date, we have split and delivered 300 cords upriver between last year and this year,” Brink said. “So, a pretty significant amount.”
Brink said the service benefits the people in the community and the environment. They’re keeping the wood local and reducing the amount brought here.
“The wood is being sourced locally from fuels properties and there's no really like spreading of disease or wood carried insects from outside the fire footprint in which I think is really important because this forest as it recovers, is really susceptible to insect diseases,” Brink said. “So the more wood we can keep inside this community, the less we're going to deal with more hardships. It's pretty much a good program all around.”
To qualify for the firewood program participants must demonstrate that they’ve been affected by the Holiday farm Fire and that they’re low income. Brink said there is a lot of need in this community which was devastated by the fire. He described a recent delivery to a local resident.
“We delivered and he was on his last two pieces of wood for the winter,” said Brink. “So if it wasn't for us, he would be out of wood. What's his alternatives for keeping warm? He's a very good example of the people we're trying to help up here that are in a position where they've spent their savings just trying to survive up here. And we're able to kind of lend a hand.”
Lara Colley said it’s been gratifying to see this program take off.
“It's just really nice to see neighbors, people I know, getting wood, staying warm," Colley said. "I feel like we're doing something positive out of this fire that was, you know, a terrible thing. We have some positive things coming out of it that are helping people now.”
EWEB customers help support the Pure Water Partners program which administers the firewood program and restoration work up the McKenzie River that protects the watershed and our drinking water.