Snowstorm “buries” more than 270 thousand people in the US

LAKE OSWEGO, United States.-

A winter storm covered ice and snow northwestern United States that faces the Pacific on Saturday, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without power and affecting travel in the region.

Freezing rain covered roads, power lines, and trees in the Portland, Oregon region with ice and by Saturday morning more than 270 thousand inhabitants had no electricity. Extreme conditions, a lack of power and transportation problems prompted Oregon Governor Kate Brown to declare a state of emergency Saturday afternoon.

“Crews are working hard now and are coordinating with local emergency response teams regarding communication from emergency services, such as alert centers,” Brown said in a statement. “I am committed to providing state resources to ensure that crews have everything they need in their work.”

Winter storms and extreme cold affected much of the western United States, particularly exposing homeless communities. Volunteers and shelter staff were trying to make sure the homeless population in Casper, Wyoming, had shelter after the National Weather Service warned that icy winds would drop to minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend.

Authorities in western Washington and western Oregon they opened emergency shelters in an effort to protect the homeless from the rain and cold.

Some people they could go the weekend without power in the Portland regionwarned Elizabeth Lattanner, a spokeswoman for PGE, one of the main companies that supplies electricity in the area.

“In storms like this, power restoration takes time due to all the difficulties our crews face getting to affected sites and repairing faults,” Lattanner said. “We have more than 600 PGE workers and contracted personnel to respond to the storm — let’s get to work.”

Many trees could not support the weight of the ice above them, falling onto power lines and causing transformers to explode amid blue and orange sparks. By Saturday noon, more than 1,200 PGE power lines were down, Lattanner said.

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