Oregon’s ice storm hits Western hard

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

Western was swept by an ice storm during the week of Jan. 8 — resulting in three classless days and one late start. While students might have relaxed or studied when class got canceled, especially due to the three-day weekend, Campus Safety remained on high alert.

“Our biggest concerns were the unknown stuff,” said Associate Director of Campus Safety, Mike Hanson. “Are we going to have power outages? Where can we take students to have heat if we lose it? We were trying to plan ahead for what we didn’t know was coming up.”

A few minor rescues were conducted during the ice storm, with car trouble being a common denominator. Campus Safety generally assists with anything and everything on campus, the only service offered 24/7 at Western.

“I think we’re very lucky to be unscathed. We had a few slips and falls — we followed up with those folks — had a few pipes break, but those, ultimately, were pretty minor,” said Hanson.

Past winter seasons haven’t been as forgiving. Years prior, a destructive ice storm downed trees and severed the power for different parts of the community. Campus Safety spent a month working on the damage, even calling in other crews to assist in the clean-up.

Ice, unlike snow, cannot be easily removed or shoveled. It has to melt or break, leading to times when the best option is to wait patiently until temperatures rise. 

“Mother nature leads us down — we have to gamble for what she leads us to,” Hanson said.

According to Hanson, students behaved safely and followed instructions during the storm, which Campus Safety was thankful for.

There are multiple ways to reach Campus Safety if a student is in need of assistance: call or text Campus Safety’s phone line at (503) 838-8481 or email at safety@wou.edu.

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu