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'Trees aren't necessarily built to withstand 130 mph winds'

Crew working east of Mapleton, Oregon, in wake of Thursday storm damage. (SBG)

FLORENCE, Ore. - Florence, Yachats, Lakeside, Mapleton and points in-between were on the docket Thursday for crews from Central Lincoln PUD, thanks to a little bit of wind.

"This is not an atypical storm for us," said Troy Delle, a distribution engineer technician with the utility. "50 to 60 mph winds are pretty common on the coast."

Delle said gusty winds first started causing trouble around 6:15 a.m.

"Our outage in the Florence area, just under 350 people lost service," he said. "It was a small tree that fell into a 3-phase/main feeder line on Highway 101."

The electrical infrastructure is built to withstand winds up to 120 mph.

Only one problem.

"The trees aren't necessarily built to withstand 130 mph/120 mph winds," Delle said.

Close to 1,100 customers lost service at the height of the storm. Damage in Florence itself was minimal.

"Some trees, but other than that it's been a normal storm event for us on the coast," said Mike Miller, public works director for the City of Florence.

When the worst of the wind passed, the sun came out - and so did kiteboarder Joel Lira.

"I'm out here to have some fun," he said, "and take advantage of what the Oregon coast has to offer."

"We launch a big inflatable kite with long lines and a control bar, get on a board with fins and go out and enjoy the waves," Lira explained.

It's a sport Lira has done for many years, with safety very much in mind.

"I do have a life vest that I will put on before I go in the water," he said. "I always make sure I have that when I'm in the ocean."

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