The crash of falling trees pummeling the vehicles outside her home was just the start of a scary weekend for Springfield, Oregon, resident Paige Ruark. A powerful winter ice storm came in waves, knocking down hundreds of trees and power lines and causing widespread damage to the community.
“The devastating damage to my neighborhood and my neighbors’ homes was incredibly shocking,” she said. “We had what seemed like mountains of debris, in multiple piles, up and down our street.”
Ruark said the kindness of a neighbor, Williams employee Rod Peterson, rooted her faith that the community could recover.
“We were loading debris when Rod called and said ‘Stop what you are doing. Help is coming.”
Thanks to quick action by Williams’ operations leaders and Community and Public Outreach team, Brinks Land Improvement, a brush removal company, had been hired to start clean-up.
“Most of the homes up here have older individuals who are physically limited in their abilities and your company came to save the day for us,” Ruark wrote in a thank you letter to Williams. “A crew of men with a chipper, chainsaws and an excavator dug us out and saved us from time-consuming, backbreaking and expensive work. (Williams) lifted an insanely huge weight off our shoulders.”
Another Springfield resident, Sara Kinnee, also thanked Williams.
“Williams helped a lot of good people calm their nerves over ‘what are we going to do with all of this debris and how do we do it?’”
Peterson, a senior operations technician on Northwest Pipeline, said the damage was the worst he’s seen in his 15 years in western Oregon. Some neighborhood streets were impassible, and his family weathered three nights in their home unable to sleep to the unrelenting thunder of ice-laden trees crashing down.
While his house sustained some roof damage, many others were severely damaged by falling trees. Peterson said he and neighbors rushed into homes, dodging falling branches, to make sure no one was hurt or trapped. Other employees were out with chain saws throughout the city, clearing debris as well.
“It was critical we work fast to help our employees and community during this major storm,” said Derrick Nez, Supervisor of Operations. “Many thanks to Rod and our Community and Public Outreach team to quickly organize efforts and identify funding for this urgent need.”
While it could take years for the city to fully recover, Peterson said he was glad that Williams was able to provide early help to start that process.
“It was huge,” he said. “There were residents who could not do this themselves, physically or financially. Williams is part of this community, and we could not let them down.”