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Cold, Snow, Ice, and Wind - Rural Living in Clark County, WA

Monday, January 9, 2017

We’ve had quite a winter so far. The weather folks haven’t compiled all of the statistics, yet. Therefore it’s tough to know if the frequent spells of cold, snow, freezing rain and wind are as abnormal as they feel.

This is the second year we’ve lived in our Multi-Generational home located in the hills above Camas-Washougal. Like most properties in a rural location, we have a well, septic, and a wood-stove for a back-up heat source in the event of a power outage. It’s important to make sure you have access to plenty of dry, seasoned firewood during the cold months.

This year, we have experienced two outages, one in December, and one this past weekend. The most recent left us without power for about eight hours. It could have been worse though. We stayed warm and cozy, had plenty of water stored, and even made grilled cheese sandwiches on our wood stove. Still, you could hear cheers throughout our two level home as the lights came back on around 4:00 PM.

We were the last group of homes in Clark County to have our power restored. The freezing rain and gusty gorge winds resulted in trees falling into power lines. At one point on Sunday, January, 8, 2017, there were about 4,000 people without power. Clark Public Utilities has a outages page and you can access it via cell phone to see how many other people are affected, and a likely restoration time. Although, don’t pin your dreams on those estimates, ours was revised three times throughout the course of the day.

One of the most frustrating aspects when you’re out of power, is the inability to run water and flush toilets on a normal basis. In most rural areas, electricity is needed to pump water into the home from a well. Therefore, it’s important to keep an adequate supply of drinking water on hand at all times. Flushing toilets is discouraged too, especially for liquid waste. It’s a good idea to consult an expert to help you fully understand the best way to protect your septic system during power outages.

If you’re in an area with frequent outages, a propane generator might be a good option for your household. They’re pretty expensive, but might be well worth the investment. We have friends who live in a gorgeous, but somewhat remote area in Oregon, and they purchased one because of frequent outages. SInce we have so few, knock on wood, it’s likely not the best option for our particular situation, but we’ll keep you posted.

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