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Home Great Coastal Gale of 2007

Looking back at the storm from Gearhart

‘Nobody could get out and nobody could get in’
By R.J. Marx

The Daily Astorian

Published on December 1, 2017 12:01AM

View from a ladder in 2007 as excavators clear debris after the storm.

Gearhart Fire Department

View from a ladder in 2007 as excavators clear debris after the storm.

Trees pile up outside Gearhart City Hall in 2007.

Gearhart Fire Department

Trees pile up outside Gearhart City Hall in 2007.

Firefighters Tony Como and Chad Sweet clear fallen trees after the 2007 storm.

Gearhart Fire Department

Firefighters Tony Como and Chad Sweet clear fallen trees after the 2007 storm.


Gearhart Fire Chief Bill Eddy was on duty during the storm of 2007. Looking back, he described “microbursts” — small pockets of winds up to 100 mph. “You could actually hear it coming,” he said.

Like last year’s hurricane in Manzanita, the winds cut a swath, hitting some properties but leaving others untouched.

While phone service was down, firefighters could receive local calls. Teams went out in trucks with chainsaws and worked their way through the fallen trees.

The areas of the Highlands and Surf Pines were especially hard-hit, Eddy said, “where nobody could get out and nobody could get in.”

Fortunately, he added, contractors that lived up there with some heavy equipment.

After clearing the bigger areas, crews started to look at individual driveways.

The houses in Gearhart actually fared pretty well, he said. “The trees didn’t, but the houses did.”

Police Chief Jeff Bowman conducted welfare checks, Eddy said, while firefighters cleared roads in case they needed to get apparatus through.

Without power, freezers gave out and homes and restaurants emptied their stocks.

“We ate better that we ever had in our lives,” Eddy said. “Even though I worked my butt off I gained 10 pounds.”

Lessons learned?

“We learned that the communications were terrible down here,” Eddy said.

Another thing firefighters discovered was the need for fuel. Fortunately, Eddy said, Seaside Fire gave permission for Gearhart trucks to fill up there.

“We found out that the community is a lot more resilient than we give them credit for,” Eddy said. “They did a very good job. We didn’t have any whiners.”

Jeff Ter Har remembers the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. “I lived through that — that was scary but this one was phenomenal,” the Surf Pines resident and business owner said.

So many trees fell he and others in the Gearhart community were trapped without phones or power. “Literally no communications.”

Ter Har’s main concern were his parents in downtown Gearhart. “I couldn’t get to them or talk to them,” he said. “It was just really scary.”

It was a minor disaster, he said.

“It made people start to prepare better for other future disasters,” Ter Har said. “It made you think about having gas in the car and ready to go. It does make you think.





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