This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 12, 2009 3:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Who trashed Harry & David?. The next post in this blog is Leaf it to Creepy. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

By cracky, it was bad!

Are you like me -- do you quietly humor the old-time Oregonians who keep telling us about the Columbus Day storm of 1962? I mean, it's not like I burden people on May 18 every year with my story of how close I was to the catastrophic Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980. Yeah, it was a big deal, but life goes on, for the survivors.

Anyway, as I say, I'm patient with the folks who simply have to tell you about '62. I've been listening patiently for the 31 years plus that I've lived in Portland. And so it was with mild interest that I opened up some photos sent yesterday by a reader who was here for it 47 years ago today. They're from the Grant Park neighborhood, although they barely scratch the surface of the destruction from the hellacious winds:

The reader writes:

The Columbus Day storm changed the way insurance companies handled damage caused by trees. Since much of the house damage caused by limbs and other flying debris could not be traced back to the source, it became the homeowner's insurance company's responsibility to pay for the damage, not the owner of the tree. So even today, if your neighbor's tree falls on your house, don't go looking at the neighbor's insurance for reimbursement.
One fact that the reader told me, I hadn't heard in all the years of listening to the story: Around three and half weeks after the devastating windstorm, Portland had an earthquake. It was on November 5, and it registered 5.2 on the Richter scale. The epicenter? Under the 'Couv! Apparently it was the largest-ever recorded earthquake centered in our metropolitan area. It caused a fair amount of damage in its own right -- particularly crumbling chimneys. Could they all have been weakened by the windstorm? Pass the Geritol and let's think about that.

Comments (10)

I am sure you have been bored to death by the Oct 12th storm stories over the years, but really! it was bad!
At our house we were without any electricity for 2 weeks! The damage was widespread and severe and for those of us who actually witnessed the storm and the aftermath it was a milestone in our lives.

The Columbus Day Storm was a much more personal and immediate experience for Portlanders. In the largest eruption of St. Helens, almost all the ash blew east - no real damage to property in Portland. It was another story on Columbus Day 1962.

We watched metal newspaper boxes and other debris blowing down the street like something out of The Wizard Of Oz, all power out for days and weeks, trees down all over town (we lost 5 including a huge shade tree that took out our brand new cyclone fence).

Insurance agents were walking around in a daze for months.

Now, for a really big shake, remember the Alaska Earthquake in 1964?

That was a really bad time. We had the Columbus day storm followed immediately by the Cuban missile crisis followed immediately by the earthquake. The first thing I thought when the earthquake hit was that the Russians had bombed us.

I had just turned eight.

The Anxiety of the Cuban Missile Crisis was going on the same week the storm happened. I was only 9 at the time and I recall being anxious about 'The Bomb'. I think Dave is right when the storm blew in we all were already on edge and it freaked a lot of people out.

Well, it wasn't all bad. I was 14 at the time and my house was right across the street from a Little League baseball park, one that had no fences at the time. I went out there and just leaned as hard as I could into the wind. Then I'd jump up and be blown back about 10 feet. It was like flying. It was fun.

Then the next day, I got up to do my paper route on a bike and whoa, it was eerie. Cars and roofs flattened by big trees, downed power lines coiled like pythons. I flipped papers as fast as I could, probably missed most of my customers, and got the hell out of there.

At six years of age, I don't remember being as scared as I was awed at the sight of the trees on the hill above our house snapping in two and splitting down the middle. I distinctly recall seeing a portion of roof fly over our house and land on the side of the hill above us. I later found out that section of roof was from my best friend's house down the street - Ricky Potestio. Yup, same guy! Then we all had to move to the basement where I remember doing dot-to-dots by the light of a kerosene lamp. We were out of power for over a week. I think the biggest danger we ever faced was when my uncle tried to get the Coleman stove to work!

Dave Lister, you were cognizant of ramifications of the Cuban missile crisis at the age of eight. Wow.

Yes, I certainly was. I wrote a commemorative column about it that ran in Brainstorm NW Magazine in November, 2003. Google "Weiner Wrap Tribute" and I think you will probably get a link to find it.

I read this with interest. I clearly remember the Columbus day storm. I was home alone with a new-born baby while my teacher-husband was at a school function. Luckily the event was cancelled and he soon returned home.

My latest novel, Tenderfoot, which will be released soon, is a work of fiction, a romantic suspense with a sub-plot of the Mount St. Helens 1980 eruption. All the facts about the mountain are accurate--I follow the time-line of the event and weave my story around it.

Thanks for the interesting blog.

Cuban missile crisis? Sheesh, I was just bummed because World Series games were being rained out in San Francisco.

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