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Severe storm pounds Estacada area

Cleanup under way after storm hits area Sunday
by: Nolene Triska A massive conifer tree crashed through the home of Rafael Reynoso on Sunday afternoon on Coupland Road when a fast-moving cold front tore through Estacada, Sandy, Boring and other areas in east Clackamas County. The severe storm knocked out power for thousands of Portland General Electric customers who were without power for five-plus hours on Sunday. The Reynoso family was home during the storm, but no one was injured.

The ferocious and fast-moving cold front that moved across the state Sunday afternoon has left more than 9,000 Portland General Electric customers without power after strong winds toppled trees across Clackamas, Multnomah and Marion counties.

PGE reported Monday morning that nearly 700 customers were affected in Multnomah and Marion counties, but the brunt of the storm hit Clackamas County where approximately 8,000 customers remained without electricity.

Outages have been reported in Welches, Sandy, Damascus, Boring, Estacada, Gresham, Eagle Creek and Corbett. PGE crews have been dispatched to the affected areas.

At the storm's peak, 49,000 PGE customers lost power due to downed trees and power lines. One tree fell, taking out power lines with it, onto Highway 26 about three miles east of Sandy at about 5:15 p.m., said Lt. Gregg Hastings, spokesman for Oregon State Police.

'A branch did strike a vehicle traveling through the area,' he said, but the uninjured motorist was gone when police arrived. Police flagged traffic through using a westbound lane until the debris was removed.

Downed trees and power lines closed three roads in rural East Multnomah County - Larch Mountain Road, Brower Road and Gordon Creek Road - until about 9:30 p.m.

Power outages also caused three schools - Barlow High School, West Orient Middle School and East Orient Elementary School - to remain closed Monday.

Although wind gusts only hit 44 mph at the Troutdale Airport on Sunday afternoon, National Weather Service Meteorologist Tiffani Brown estimates they were closer to 55 mph at the higher elevations in Gresham, northern Clackamas County and in the Columbia River Gorge.

Longtime Sandy residents James and Gayle King looked on Monday morning as PGE crews attempted to repair a damaged pole in their front yard where an evergreen crashed to the ground.

When the storm hit, the two were out to dinner and described their drive home on roads covered with tree limbs as a 'war zone.'

'There were so many limbs down, I said 'what is going on?' ' said James King, who has lived at his home on Southeast Gunderson Road for 23 years. Besides the downed power line, there were no damages to his home.

'We had to drive over so many limbs to get here.'

Upon arriving to the house after dinner, the tree had already crashed through the power lines with the tree's root system uplifting a sizable portion of his front yard.

James said the two have seen some nasty windstorms before, one of which happened six years ago resulting in a branch piercing their home's roof.

This time, though it was the tree and the power lines that suffered the most damage.

- Reporters Mara Stine and Rob Cullivan contributed to this report.