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City goes silent as lightning strikes equipment


The lightning storm July 13 didn’t just cause the Special Olympics to end early, it also knocked out communications equipment for the city of Newberg.

“We don’t know exactly how lightning struck it, but on one of the commercial towers on Chehalem Mountain we have two sets of microwaves on that tower,” said Newberg IT Director Dave Brooks. “Lightning struck a window next to the tower, it bounced off and hit our gear about 9:30 Sunday morning.”

The tower provides both the Internet connection for the city and the network circuit for Newberg Fire Station 21.

“The funny part is where live I can actually see the tower and we actually saw the lightning strike it so we were on it right away,” Brooks said. “The guys up around the tower haven’t gotten pictures yet but said it looks spectacular.”

He said nothing like this has ever happened before. “It was completely random,” Brooks said.

As for damage, he said they were able to get most of the issues resolved that afternoon.

“I borrowed (Newberg Public Library’s) public Wi-Fi connection and rerouted it for the city to use,” Brooks said. The library had Wi-Fi restored Wednesday afternoon and all issues had been resolved by Friday. “I had to borrow it in a pinch.”

Otherwise, he said, the only other noticeable issues might have been with the city of Newberg website.

“We had a fraction of the bandwidth we normally use. That’s probably the biggest thing the public would see,” Brooks said, adding that means the site might have been slow for users, or viewing files might have taken longer than usual. “Internally there was some stuff. The 9-1-1 center lost connect to the internet for a while, which isn’t that critical.”