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C.O. agencies coordinate response to snow emergency

Hotline established, tips offered to stay safe

Bend tries to stay ahead of snowfall

BEND, Ore. - With the threat of yet another foot or more of heavy snow, Bend-area government officials issued a joint message Tuesday, urging people to stay home unless you have to go out, and to reschedule non-essential appointments.

The government, school and park agencies also urged residents to watch out for vulnerable populations and to check on elderly or disabled neighbors who may need help with shoveling, groceries or medications.

Residents also are urged not to let children play in snow berms near roads, as snow plow drivers can't see them.

The officials also ask that people not call 911 for issues such as roof clearing, frozen pipes or snow removal (in Bend, the hotline for streets needing clearing is 541-317-3000, extension 3.)

The city of Bend said Monday it needs the community's help in coping with likely the snowiest winter in a quarter-century, while city fire officials urged removal of heavy snow from roofs - not just for structural reasons, but to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"This winter’s buildup of snow is not business as usual, and we need the community’s help in providing the best street maintenance and public safety service possible," city spokeswoman Anne Aurand said.

"We are expecting a lot more snow in the next couple of days," Aurand added. "The city of Bend is asking for residents’ help in protecting themselves and their neighbors by parking vehicles off the street whenever possible to allow plow drivers to clear streets as widely as possible, not only for you but also for emergency vehicles such as fire engines.

 Also, when the city is plowing these significant, record levels of snow, the snow may end up as a berm across a driveway, or covering a sidewalk or a fire hydrant.

"We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause," Aurand said. "We do not have the resources to shovel out driveway berms and fire hydrants. This is the responsibility of residents."

"During the snowfall, streets are typically, initially opened with one pass through to make it just passable for drivers. This is our first priority," she said. "As weather conditions change, crews often alter their snow-clearing strategies in the midst of operations to control drifting snow, ice or other special emergency situations.  Plow drivers often end up making multiple passes in order to clear a street."

Aurand also offered a snow removal tip from the Streets and Operations Department to reduce your shoveling workload:

"If you want to clear your driveway (or curb/sidewalk/mailbox/hydrant) before the snowplows come, also clear an area on both sides of your driveway and out in the right-of way (about three or four feet), creating a large pocket  in front of your home) and pile snow onto your yard, not in the street.

"This may reduce the huge pile of snow in your driveway when snowplows clear your street.  The more snow you clear from these areas, the less will be deposited at your driveway entrance."

A later Tuesday upate from the agencies:

The City of Bend's Fire, Police, Streets, Utilities and Administration departments, Deschutes County's Sheriff's Office, 911 Dispatch, Road Department and Emergency Services Manager, Red Cross, Bend La Pine Schools and Bend Parks and Recreation District are all working together to keep the community safe. Community safety is our foremost concern. This storm is still growing in intensity and we expect challenges to increase, so here are some helpful tips that will help the public.

Information Hotline

To help the community get the information they need, the agencies are establishing a hotline, based at City Hall, for public information and questions today until 5 p.m. and starting again tomorrow, Wednesday, January 10, at 9 a.m. The number is 541-322-6330.

Roofs

We know roofs are being loaded but there is a risk to climbing on your roof to remove snow, too. So, how do you know whether to remove snow? Here's what we've learned:

Structures built in Bend with building permits are designed to handle 25 pounds per square foot, which equates to about 20 inches of snow. Older structures, built before the adoption of building codes in Bend (late 1960's), may not meet this minimum standard. Manufactured homes are designed to carry 30 pounds per square foot, or about 2 feet of snow. Flat roofs are more of a concern, because they tend to hold more snow moisture.

Rainfall on top of snow can add a significant amount of weight to a roof rapidly. If the snow continues to pile up over 20-25 inches on your house, consider removing it from the roof.

It is very dangerous to climb on the roof in snow conditions, please either use a snow rake from the ground or contact a licensed professional, such as an arborist or a roofing contractor to access the roof. Pay attention to where the snow will land if you choose to use a snow rake, and watch out for falling icicles.

As the snow gets deeper and deeper on roofs, the Bend Fire Department also recommended that you get a qualified professional to remove the extra loading, for several reasons:

·        Excess snow on the roof can weaken and potentially collapse a structure, particularly an older building with a shallow pitched roof.

·        Snow melting on a roof can refreeze into ice dams, which force subsequent snow melt to leak into the structure.

·        Melting snow can freeze into icicles, which can cause serious injury if they fall on people, and

·        Deep snow on a roof can bury a gas appliance flue, causing the exhaust to enter the home. This condition can introduce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless poisonous gas in the building.

Make sure your gas vent is clearly above the level of the snow, and monitor it when new storms are predicted.

 


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