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Storm of the Century

by Ian Doescher


About a week ago, here in Portland, we were told that a huge storm would be hitting the area on the weekend. This storm threatened, as one new account had it, to be as awful and as memorable as the (locally) famous Columbus Day windstorm of 1962. One news account I read said, amusingly, “If you have hatches, batten them down.” Portland Parks and Recreation canceled basically every outdoor activity—school sports, outdoor sports in the parks, everything was canceled until further notice.

My family and I got ready. We had planned to go to the Fruit Loop in Hood River on Saturday, and our boys had soccer and baseball games scheduled (which were now canceled). Instead of a busy Saturday, we decided to have a quiet Saturday indoors, build a fire, eat yummy fall foods and generally just be cozy while the storm raged outside. It wasn’t the Saturday we had planned, but we were looking forward to it.

Sure enough, the storm tore through the coastal town of Manzanita, a favorite location of my family’s, when a tornado hit the town (tornados are extremely rare in the Pacific Northwest). This added to our apprehension. When I got home Friday night, I was relieved.

Storm of the CenturyWe did have severe rain on Friday night for a while, and a bit of wind. People tell me that areas of Portland were without power for several hours. We, for whatever reason, though, were essentially untouched by this storm. Sure, it was a little windy. There was some rain (but not much) on Saturday. But as my wife, Jennifer, said, “If I hadn’t heard about the storm on the news I would have gone about my normal day on Saturday and it would have been fine.” On Facebook, a friend posted the picture you see here, of a lovely scene in Portland on Saturday, complete with full rainbow, along with the caption, “THE STORM OF THE CENTURY.”

We overreacted, all of us. I won’t diminish what happened in Manzanita or other hard-hit areas, but in Portland it was not nearly as bad as feared.

All of which makes me wonder: how does fear make us act, or react, or overreact? How can we be prepared without being scared? How can we stay calm even when we don’t know all the facts?


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