SEASIDE - City Manager Mark Winstanley and other city department heads weighed in on the storm during the regular meeting of the Seaside City Council Monday.
Winstanley opened up the council debriefing with a general overview of the storm and the week following it.
"Certainly our partnership with the park and rec district was important and we wouldn't have been able to function as well as we did without it," said Winstanley.
He said the dedication of city officials and employees, as well as the efforts of a dedicated group of citizens, helped to get the city through the storm with as much ease as could be expected under the circumstances.
Winstanley took a moment to dispel the rumors surrounding the water treatment and wastewater treatment plants, saying there never was a problem with either plant. He did say there were a number of challenges presented to those who work in the sewer department, simply because of a lack of electricity.
"It was a testament to the people in the department (that there were no sewer problems)," said Winstanley.
He gave more praise to public works for their efforts to clear the streets, even before the storm had ended, highlighting the dedication of the department's employees.
"Public Works and those who take care of our streets, while the rest of us were inside trying to stay warm, were out in the storm," said Winstanley.
"The cooperative effort orchestrated during the storm week took everybody," said Public Works Director Neal Wallace. "It was an inspiring week."
Winstanley then switched his focus to the Seaside Police Department. "We don't bring all the officers in just because it's storming and blowing," he said.
The police were out in the thick of the storm, directing traffic, protecting businesses and doing welfare checks on those in the community.
"The police department increased the number of people on shifts to make sure that property and people were safe," said Winstanley.
Seaside Police Chief Bob Gross said in five days, the station handled 1,453 incoming calls - and that number jumps to just over 3,000 when outgoing calls are added in.
During the day, there were four officers on duty, including Gross and Lt. Dave Ham, and five at night. Officers worked 12- to 16-hour shifts during the week of the storm and found time to visit each shelter in the city to talk with residents.
According to Gross, there were three commercial buildings damaged; three significant gas leaks; one burglary of a business; two gas thefts; one stolen generator; one drunk driving arrest; and five arrests from a beach bonfire.
"Incredibly, there were only three accidents," said Gross. Two of the accidents occurred on U.S. Highway 101 while the street lights were out.
"What I found remarkable was seeing people get back to their routines," said Gross, citing people returning to their jogging routes, raking their yards and continuing on with their daily work. "It showed the resilience of this community."
Winstanley took a moment to heap praise on the fire department as well. In particular, singling out Fire Chief Dale Kamrath and Fire Marshal Chris Dugan.
"Everybody knows what an incredible fire department we have here in Seaside," said Winstanley. "The fire chief and the fire marshal worked an unbelievable number of hours."
He also recognized the efforts of the volunteer firefighters who spent countless hours, sometimes eschewing their regular employment, to help the city with emergency calls and recovery tasks.
"We were very busy from, for those of you on military time, Sunday at 1109-hundred hours," said Kamrath. The fire department's first call after the storm was a mutual aid call to Gearhart.
In the first 48 hours, the department responded to 40 calls and responded to a total of 65 during the course of the week. There were also 15 calls responded to immediately after the power was returned.
"Friday we spent 90 wild minutes chasing down our electrical issues," said Kamrath.
There were anywhere from 23 to 13 volunteer firefighters working at the station during the course of the week and six to 10 families that spent time at the station house.
Next on the docket was Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District and the work their staff did with the Bob Chisholm Senior and Community Center.
"What a wonderful job they did," said Winstanley. "They gave people a place to go, get something warm to eat, and gave them a place to stay, if they needed it."
Mary Blake, SEPRD director, highlighted what she characterized as "divine moments" during the week and discussed the lessons of community learned by those at the community center.
"It was people understanding that it all comes down to 'we are all human beings,'" said Blake.
She praised the efforts of volunteers, particularly those from Thugz off Drugz, who were there from "the beginning to the end."
The community center housed 21 people overnight the first night after the storm and 22 the second and then watched the numbers drop off from there. The overnight stays prompted Blake to ask for assistance from the American Red Cross and Providence Seaside Hospital to ensure those in need were able to get proper medical care. According to Blake, 121 hours of continuous care were provided by the community center during the week.
"We found that we had a lot of desperate people who found it hard to ask for help," said Blake.
Winstanley also praised the Seaside Public Library, which was open during the course of the week, providing reading materials and social interaction for those who had not been out of their homes for a few days.
"The last group that needs to be complimented is the general public," said Winstanley. He said that as quickly as public works crews were out clearing roads, there were community members already working their chain saws to remove debris.
"Most importantly, they were checking on their neighbors," said Winstanley. "That's what small communities are all about - neighbors checking on neighbors."
Rus Vandenberg, manager of the Seaside Civic and Convention Center, reminded the council, and by extension the public, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up shop in the convention center for at least two weeks and possibly three to help people with recovery funding.
Mayor Don Larson expressed his thanks to the community, volunteers and those working for the city for their efforts during the storm week.
"I have never, ever seen a community that showed the love and care and concern (that Seaside did)," said Larson. "I have never seen people show so much love in this town. People, we can be proud of this town. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart."