Wind causes damage in Summerville

By By Trish Yerges Observer Correspondent July 09, 2012 05:32 pm

SUMMERVILLE — A sudden and powerful downdraft of wind blew through Summerville early Saturday evening, felling large trees and damaging property for two residents. 

 Union County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason McKaig responded to a call at 5:51 p.m. about a large tree that had fallen across Hunter Road and downed electrical lines at the John and Mia Gregory residence.

 “A micro-burst came down and pushed the tree over,” said Deputy McKaig.  “We had lots of calls come in about it, but the original call came in at 17:51.  A county crew will come out to take the tree away.” 

 John Gregory, 87, and his son, John, were at home when the power suddenly went out.   Gregory was sitting on his front porch when the micro-burst went over his house and toppled his 16-year-old weeping willow.

 “I had wanted to take that tree down before this,” he said, “but because of the fruit trees nearby, I had no place to lay it.”

 The weeping willow was near a pond on the property, and its roots and the soil around them were wet.  The force of the wind bent the tree over at its roots.  It also fell on a power line that was attached to the exterior service box on the house.

 “It pulled the roof loose, and it tore the service pipe right off the wall of the house,” Gregory said.

 Gregory’s son called All Phase Electrical Construction of La Grande and co-owner Aaron Romer responded promptly to start repairs to the service box.

 “Even if they don’t get the line repaired, we won’t be without electricity tonight,” Gregory said as he pointed to his generator on the front porch.

 The county road crew arrived and were working into the evening with heavy machinery, cutting the tree into pieces and dragging its limbs off the road.   Traffic was being carefully directed around the mess.

 East of this site on McKenzie Lane at the Tom and Sharon Woody residence was more evidence of the powerful micro-burst.  

 A mature ponderosa pine tree on the Woody’s front lawn snapped off about six feet from the ground and crashed eastward into their barn, slicing right through the entire width of the structure. 

 The Tom Woody family was not at home at the time of the incident, neighbors said.  Close neighbors learned about the property damage at 8 p.m. and notified Woody.

High winds played havoc throughout Union County Saturday and Sunday evenings, with La Grande Police, Union County Sheriff’s deputies, Union County Public Works and Oregon Trail Electric Co-op responding to numerous reports of downed trees and power lines. No injuries were reported.