Manzanita’s welcome sign is back up following a brief pause when a recent tornado prompted officials to discourage visitors as the city cleaned up the disaster’s aftermath.
By Ann Powers
“The clean-up has been nothing short of miraculous,” said Mayor Garry Bullard. “Manzanita is still bruised but we’re definitely back in business and we’d like to welcome people back.”
The EF2 twister tore through the center of town on Oct. 14, bringing winds up to 135 mph and carving a nearly mile-long, 700-foot-wide path heading northeast toward U.S. Highway 101. Tornados are measured on a scale from EF0 to EF5, with the latter being the most severe, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Bullard declared a state of emergency shortly after the twister hit at 8:18 a.m. The tornado damaged 128 structures, displaced several businesses and took out one-third of the city’s trees.
Tillamook People’s Utility District (PUD) reported about 2,500 customers lost power Friday. By Saturday evening, most of those connections had been restored.
Officials said a second water-spout-turned-tornado made landfall at 9:09 a.m. near Oceanside that same day. No damage was reported in that incident, and no injuries or deaths were reported in either situation.
Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay (EVCNB) Coordinator Linda Kozlowski said about 35 volunteers hit the streets directing traffic and whatever else was needed. Two emergency shelters were set up and residents were bringing food to the disaster teams on the scene.
“People were Johnny-on-the-spot, prepared and ready to respond,” she said. “The volunteers are very proud to have been helping their community.”
Not only are the volunteers proud, so is State Sen. Betsy Johnson of the exemplary efforts made to protect the welfare of the coastal community within her district.
“I have held Manzanita up repeatedly to other cities as an astonishing model of emergency preparedness,” she said. “There is a culture of preparedness in Manzanita that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s a comfort to the citizens and may have minimized any additional damage.”
While locals have weathered the storm well, the worst may be yet to come – as in dealing with the aftermath.
“Now that it’s over the clean-up begins,” Tillamook County Commissioner Mark Labhart said. “And some of the issues around all that start happening and sometimes those are worse than the disasters themselves.”
City Manager Jerry Taylor said the city has spent about $40,000 on debris collection and officials have suspended those efforts for the time being.
“We’re pretty much done with debris collection,” he said. “We’re still waiting to see how the insurance companies are going to handle the private sector.”
Taylor added the city council is expected to revisit any clean-up concerns at their Nov. 9 regular meeting. A list of licensed contractors used by the county can be obtained at city hall for residents needing to remove debris from their yards and repair damages.
Residents with insurance questions can contact the State Insurance Commissioner by calling 503-378-4100, or visit the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services website at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A fund has also been set up to help Manzanita tornado victims at U.S. Bank in Manzanita. Donations are tax deductible because the fund is set up through the Folcrum Community Resources/Manzanita Tornado Relief fund, a 501-C3 entity.
Updates can be found on the fund’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/manzanitatornadorelief. Donations can also be mailed to: Fulcrum Community Resources/Manzanita Tornado Relief, PO Box 44, Manzanita, OR 97130.
Over $1,500 was colleted for that fund during a community thanksgiving and pr
ayer service at St. Catherine Episcopal Church in Nehalem, Oct. 21.
Three other churches helped host the event including Calvary Bible Church, Covenant Community Church and Nehalem Bay United Methodist Church.
Manzanita City Councilman Mike Scott addressed the audience. Erik and Emily Dante, of Calvary Bible, and Dorene Dunlap, of St. Catherine’s, provided music.
Go Bag class
EVCNB will be hosting one of their emergency “Go Bag” classes on Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue BF&R Station, 36375 Hwy 101 North. The focus of this training will be tornado preparation. No registration is required. For questions, contact email@example.com.