Policeman hit by tree in Oregon storm recovering

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland police officer struck by a falling tree remained hospitalized Tuesday as residents from the coast to east of Cascades cleaned up debris from Monday’s powerful storm.

Officer Paul Meyer, a 19-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau, was listed in serious condition at an undisclosed hospital, said Sgt. Pete Simpson, a police spokesman.

Meyer was riding an ATV during police training Monday when the tree fell on him. Witnesses described the tree as “telephone pole-sized,” Simpson said. The specific injuries suffered by Meyer have not been disclosed.

“It’s hard to know what would have happened if he hadn’t been wearing the helmet, but it couldn’t have been any better for him,” Simpson said.

Simpson said he didn’t know how many officers were involved in training on Hayden Island, located in the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver, Wash. Though the storm was anticipated, Simpson said the police went ahead with the mid-morning training session because the strong winds had yet to accompany the rain.

“People that were there described it to me as kind of your typical Portland fall day,” Simpson said.

The storm took the life of an elk hunter near Nehalem, who died when a tree fell on his tent, and left a trail of downed branches and limbs from Astoria, where a wind gust of 101 mph was recorded, to Bend and points east. Logs littered the Willamette River and other waterways, making travel more difficult for boaters.

Flood watches and warnings remained in effect on both ends of the Oregon coast as the rain and wind continued Tuesday.

“At least it’s not a continuous heavy downpour and continuous strong or stronger winds,” said Gordon McCraw, director of emergency management in coastal Tillamook County. “That was the choice yesterday; you could have strong or stronger.”

The region might escape showers Thanksgiving day, but the National Weather Service says precipitation is almost certain over the weekend. And, this being Oregon, rain is likely to stay in the forecast until May.

Thanksgiving travel plans are unlikely to be disrupted by the storm. The strong winds did no damage at Portland International Airport, and all major roads remained open.

The state’s largest utility companies reported only a few thousand customers still without power. Portland General Electric worked to restore power to about 6,000 customers east of Portland. Pacific Power, meanwhile, said almost all of its 2,400 customers without electricity live in coastal Lincoln City.

“When the damage is this scattered there’s always the probability you’ll have a couple isolated individual or small groups of customers that might drag on a little longer,” said Bob Gravely, a Pacific Power spokesman.

The state Department of Parks and Recreation said four state parks remained closed Tuesday — three because of high water (Devils Lake, near Lincoln City; Sarah Helmick, south of Monmouth; and Willamette Mission, north of Salem) and one because of downed trees (Cape Meares, on the north coast).

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