CANNON BEACH - A power failure during Tuesday's storm in Seaside, Gearhart, Warrenton and Chinook, Wash., left many west Clatsop County residents in the dark.

Cannon Beach residents waited the longest - about an hour and a half - before electrical power was restored. But despite the inconvenience, business proceeded almost as normal at city hall and other public buildings.

City Manager Peggy Coats said that during any power failure, generators come online and power the city's phone system.

"It's very important to us to keep our phones going, because that way, we'll be able to get the message out if our waste

water treatment stations or pump stations go on the blink," she said.

Auxiliary lights, also powered by generators, are placed around city hall. Often, city employees continue to work at their desks during daylight hours, thanks to the copious amount of windows at city hall.

The city's public works employees, who Coats calls the "backbone" of the city, are the busiest during a power failure, keeping track of pump station alarm conditions.

"The last thing we want during a power outage is sewage overflowing," Coats said.

On Tuesday, the police station, which is also hooked into the city's generator system, was closed because the dispatcher was unable to make it in. All calls were routed through the Seaside Police Department, while Cannon Beach officers remained on patrol.

At the Cannon Beach fire hall, generators automatically switch on to power phones, lights, computers, scanners and automatic doors.

"We're designated as a command post for police, fire and public works, in the event of a disaster or tsunami," Fire Marshal Mike Graham said. "Of course, the generator won't power all lights and all outlets, but we'll have what we need to function properly."

Other businesses, like the Grey Whale Inn, simply hunker down and weather out the failure with oil lamps, candles and phones that plug into the wall. For Matthew Stowers, whose parents own the Inn, it also means providing lots of games and reading materials for guests.

For many Cannon Beach residents, power failures are just part of living on the North Oregon Coast.

"I've been here for many years and it has gotten so much better over the years," Tolovana Park-area resident Merril Taylor said. "I'm pretty lucky. I have a wood stove and I have candles and flashlights ready. I have one phone that is not cordless and a cellular phone. I feel like this is just part of the deal with living out on the coast."

Area fire chiefs remind anyone using a candle for light to exercise extreme caution. Never leave a candle burning unattended and keep all candles out of the reach of children and pets. Trim wicks to one-quarter inch, which prevents high flames and keeps the candle from smoking. Install working smoke alarms on every level of the home and keeps fire extinguishers by exits.


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