Toward the end of the week there were rumors that cell service had returned to Seaside. The highway had been cleared, so I decided to go there.
I’ll never forget what I saw: My first impression was, “This must be what it would be like during an apocalypse.”
I went to the Safeway store. Since they were working only with generators, the lights were dim. Yellow caution tape was draped across the frozen food aisles. Many shelves were empty (no supplies could get through because of the downed trees). Shoppers were quietly walking through putting the food that was available in their shopping carts; they looked like they were still in shock. I guess the cash registers were working, but it was sketchy because there was so little electrical power.
Next door to Safeway, there was a long line of people with shopping carts outside the Rite Aid. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I checked it out. They were waiting for bags of ice to be loaded into their carts. Ice was the only way we could keep anything cold. I thought for sure they would be charging a lot per bag (supply and demand, you know), but they charged only $1 a bag.
At the Chevron gas station, vehicles were crowded around the gas pumps, and they extended into the street. A television camera crew was interviewing drivers. It was the first time gas was available since the storm began. I think they were also working with generators.
Anyone who wasn’t at Safeway, Rite Aid or the gas station was at the Cove in Seaside. People were walking on the rocks or balancing on the logs, cell phones to their ears, reassuring family and friends that they were OK. It was the first time in nearly a week that they had been able to communicate with anyone outside their local communities.
Nancy McCarthy is the former editor of the Seaside Signal and Cannon Beach Gazette.