More than 13,000 Pacific Power customers in Josephine and Jackson counties were without electricity Friday as high winds and heavy snow toppled trees and limbs onto power lines, company officials reported.
A majority of those outages occurred in Josephine County, prompting a joint effort between Pacific Power and the American Red Cross to set up three warming shelters in the county for displaced residents. They were set up at Cave Junction City Hall, 222 Lister St.; Sunny Wolf Charter School, 100 Ruth Ave., Wolf Creek; and at the Josephine County Fairgrounds Art Building, 1451 Fairgrounds Road, Grants Pass. Red Cross officials served warm beverages and snacks.
"The plan is to keep them up through the weekend," said Monte Mendenhall, Pacific Power's regional community manager.
Josephine County Search & Rescue personnel transported elderly residents who were without power or heat to a shelter, the Josephine County Sheriff's Department reported. Those still in need of assistance were asked to call 541-474-5305 to arrange a pickup.
Mendenhall said 19,000 Josephine County customers did not have power at the peak of the outage Thursday night.
Additionally, more than 200 customers lost their power in Jackson County, primarily in the Sterling Creek and Sardine Creek areas.
"We should have everybody back in service by this (Friday) evening," Mendenhall said of the Jackson County outages.
The recent deluge of heavy, wet snow and winds caused trees and power lines to fall, cutting power for customers. Various reports said anywhere from 3 inches to 2 feet of heavy, wet snow fell in various spots across Josephine County overnight.
Pacific Power said on its website it expects a majority of customers to have their power back by this evening. Crews from across the state were summoned to the area to help with restoration. They will work through the weekend.
"We're going to work until we have everybody back in service," Mendenhall said.
Customers are reminded to keep away from downed power lines, even if they are not sparking, as electricity could still be flowing through the lines.