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'Catastrophic destruction': More than 150,000 Oregon customers still without power

As of 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, PGE reported 148,000 customers without power, and Pacific Power reported 5,777 customers without power.

PORTLAND, Ore. — This story is no longer being updated. Click here for the latest on power outages in the Portland metro area and Willamette Valley.

While much of the snow and ice from last weekend's winter storm has melted, more than 150,000 Oregonians are still without power, heat, internet and other services. Portland General Electric (PGE) tweeted that its system "experienced catastrophic destruction" due to the storm. PGE had previously warned it would take days for some people to get their power back.

"Our friends, our family are experiencing these outages as well. We know exactly what you're going through," PGE spokesperson Steve Corson said Monday. "We know the frustration, and we're working as fast and as hard as we can to get that power restored."

PGE said it has restored power for nearly 490,000 customers since the start of the storm. As of 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, PGE reported 148,000 customers without power, and Pacific Power reported 5,559 customers without power. PGE said it hopes to reduce the number of customers without power to about 100,000 by midday Thursday.

Both utility companies said crews were working around the clock, with backup called in from as far away as Nevada and Montana. PGE said more than 3,000 people are working to restore power for its customers. The issue, Corson explained, was that trees in several locations had come crashing onto PGE equipment, damaging power lines, transmission lines and even substations.

PGE on Wednesday afternoon launched a storm info page that shows how many crews are working in each region of Oregon and what they're priorities are.

PGE: What's happening today 

More than 6,400 PGE power lines are still down. Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) urged people to only call 911 when downed power lines are arcing, sparking or have caused immediate danger to people or pets. Otherwise, they advise people to report downed power lines to PGE at 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795. People should also stay far away from downed power lines, especially in a wet conditions.

Check your power status:

More KGW severe weather links:

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Saturday declared a state of emergency due to the severe weather and power outages.

"The state of emergency I declared on Saturday will ensure that all necessary state resources are available on the ground to help Oregonians impacted by this winter storm," Brown said.

Four people in Clackamas County have died from carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter storm. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said in addition to the deaths, first responders have reported several other close calls. Deputies reported six adults in Gladstone got carbon monoxide poisoning after using a generator in an enclosed area. 

The sheriff’s office said it’s important people don’t use generators inside their homes because of the carbon monoxide danger. Deputies also said people shouldn't use alternative heating sources, including barbecues, camp stoves or cooktops inside their homes.

For those without power, PGE offers the following tips:

  • Use caution with alternative light and heating sources to avoid unintentional fire from candles, harmful fumes from kerosene heaters used indoors without proper ventilation or deadly carbon monoxide from use of charcoal briquettes indoors.
  • Lock in home heat by tacking blankets over windows and doorways to keep the cold out and putting rolled towels at the bottom of doors to keep drafts out.
  • Save body heat by wearing loose layers of clothing to trap body heat; wearing a hat, even when sleeping; moving periodically to generate body heat and using blankets and a hot water bottle if feasible.
  • If you can safely do so, consider staying with a friend or family member who has power.
  • If you’re concerned for yourself, a family member or a neighbor, consider finding another location with power.
  • If you need emergency shelter or have other needs related to cold weather, please call 211. For customers whose power is out, please contact PGE if you haven’t already.

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