On Thursday, February 11th, 2021, a historic ice storm arrived in the Willamette Valley leaving over 90,000 residents in Marion County without power. As concerned family members and friends began calling in about medically vulnerable loved ones without power, Search and Rescue deputies and volunteers assisted with staffing call center phone lines, coordinating welfare checks, and assisting with road closures.
On February 19th Marion County was contacted by officials from the State of Oregon offering additional support from the Oregon Army National Guard to proactively assist with welfare checks in the community. Using information provided by Marion County Emergency Management and utility companies, Search and Rescue coordinators identified rural areas of Marion County to focus their efforts on due to projections the residents could be without power for several more days.
Beginning on February 22nd, 2021, Deputies and 16 service members from the 1186th Military Police Company could be seen in various areas around Marion County as they conducted welfare checks on residents. Over the course of four days, February 22nd – 25th, welfare checks were conducted at over 640 residences where teams helped distribute water, blankets, batteries, and other items to community members.
When asked about the four day joint operation, Deputy Sofia Contenta commented, “While out checking on people around Marion County it was great being able to work with many of the same people who were activated to help during the Beachie Fire.”
This afternoon, February 25th, Sheriff Joe Kast visited with National Guard members and presented each of them with a Sheriffs’ Office patch as a sign of gratitude for their efforts. When asked about the collaborative effort, Sheriff Kast said, “Over the last year we have experienced a number of unprecedented events around Marion County. Each time we are presented with a new challenge, we’ve seen partners come forward and work together to help our community in their time of need.”
As the joint effort with the Oregon Army National Guard concludes, many resources within the community will remain available. For an up to date list of current resources please visit www.co.marion.or.us/alerts.