When Douglas County’s power outage due to the February 24 and 27 snowfall left Pacific Power and Douglas Electric customers without power, food storage systems especially suffered. Customers were without power from three days to three weeks depending on the area, with 10 percent of Douglas Electric customers still without electricity as of March 13.

During the power outage, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and delis were all substantially affected, including at UCC.

“During the power outage, a lot of food, especially dairy foods, were tossed in the dumpster. It really hurt our college’s cafeteria,” Steve Fair-Harrison, UCC’s cafeteria manager, said.

Stefan Mattoon, who works for the Chevron gas station in Sutherlin, calculated that about $1500 in food items were gone. “A lot of dairy products such as milk, sour cream, cheese, creamers, and eggs were tossed in the garbage cans outside,” Mattoon said. “Having no power really took a lot of wasted food out of our store; $300 in dairy items were gone.”

Without electricity, the gas station’s hot convenience food was also lost. “Our store always carries a lot of hot food products like pizza sticks, biscuits and gravy, tornadoes, burritos, and chicken strips. We lost approximately $1,200 just on hot food,” Mattoon said. “It really hurt all six of the Chevron stations that are located in the Sutherlin and Roseburg areas.”

Although there was major food loss for civilians, most grocery and convenience stores received new stock about three days after the outaage,
Bart’s Market in Sutherlin threw out about $4,650 in food. Sayward QozerrShamir, Bart’s manager, said that dairy, deli, ice cream, sour cream, freezer items such as tater tots and hot food such as hot dogs, egg rolls, hot pockets and burritos had to be thrown away.

“The small market was not prepared for the power outage and did not have a fully running generator,” QozerrShamir said.

Most stores lacked adequate generator back ups because of how infrequently Oregon has extended power outages, QozzerShamir noted.
Bart’s Market is still in the process of replacing food such as ice cream, novelty bars, cookie ice cream, and sandwiches. All of the novelty items in the freezer section are still empty, partly because of the expense.

“We have to do it little by little since it is a small business,” QozzerShamir said.

The problem was not just for small stores. Fred Meyer had to call in employees to work overtime to remove spoiled products, and many of their dairy coolers were closed off to customers days after the snow began on February 24.