Oregon Woman Dies in Storm’s Aftermath
A Lyons, Ore., woman was killed early Monday (Dec. 17) when a huge tree fell on her truck and camper at a Grand Ronde, Ore., campground, according to KATU-TV, Portland.
Authorities blamed recent rains that saturated the soil around the tree for possibly causing the tree roots to give way and the tree to fall on its own. It was being used as a light pole in the campground.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office identified the woman as 50-year-old Julie Mae Williams, who was killed a day before her 51st birthday.
According to the sheriff's office, Williams is a dump truck driver who was staying at the campground because she was scheduled to work all week in the Grand Ronde area, located 25 miles west of Salem. The tree, which measured about 11 feet in diameter but had been previously cut to a height of about 20 feet, crushed the camper she was in about midnight at the Wandering Spirit RV Park, the sheriff's office said.
Meanwhile, parks and campgrounds along the Oregon Coast Range continue to clean up from the storm that wreaked havoc Dec. 2-3. Wind gusts well in excess of 100 mph were recorded along the coast in the worst storms since 1962.
“All in all, Oregon parks came through very well,” Gillian Rampley, vice president of the Oregon Campground Association (ORCA), told Woodall’s Campground Management. Rampley conducted a survey among ORCA members and found “very little or no damage.”
However, Rampley’s Chinook RV Park in Waldport, three miles inland and open year-round, took a direct hit from the storm. Winds snapped trees, tore up campsites, snapped a wooden fence and destroyed five storage sheds. The campground lost power for more than a day.
“We will have all sites open well before spring,” Rampley said.
Highway 34, a main route to the valley, was washed away about 16 miles inland and was closed for approximately 10 days but is now open, Rampley noted.
An unnamed RV park in the Tillamook area was flooded out and RVs were washed away, Rampley added.
“Winter storms are just a fact of life on the Oregon coast,” Rampley said. “In fact, many visitors come here to storm watch! One thing that might be good to mention is the fact that the media and National Weather Service were incredibly good at giving warnings of the intensity of the storm and everyone was very prepared.”
Elsewhere in the state, Fort Stevens campground, located in Warrenton at the mouth of the Columbia River, was to reopen this week after being closed because of storm damage, according to the Portland, Ore., Statesman Journal. The campground at Cape Lookout State Park also has been closed since the storms.
Sunset Beach State Park is closed indefinitely after trees were snapped off and uprooted. Ecola State Park at Cannon Beach is open, although more than 100 trees are down across the Oregon Coast Trail. Saddle Mountain State Natural Area, inland from the sea and north of Highway 26, will be closed indefinitely. Three of the six loops in the 265-site campground at Nehalem Bay State Park and its 17-site horse camp reopened on Friday (Dec. 14). Wallowa Lake State Park in northeast Oregon is closed until Jan. 31 because of dozens of downed trees.
Sections of the Siuslaw National Forest sustained wind and rain damage causing a number of road and trail closures with minor damage to recreation and administrative sites.