The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

February 26, 2013

Area residents dig out from blizzard; death toll up to 2

ENID, Okla. — A 71-year-old Woodward man killed when his driveway awning fell on him during Monday’s blizzard has been identified as Curtis Haines.

Haines was killed in the 3600 block of 22nd Street, said Amy Elliott, chief administrative officer of the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Woodward, like the rest of northwest Oklahoma, is digging out from the snow, said Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer.

National Weather Service preliminary snow totals show 10 inches in the Enid area, with 16 in Woodward, 17 in Alva, 12 in Waynoka and 9 in Fairview. Drifts 3-6 feet deep are reported across the area, according to NWS.

“We still have about 1,500 homes and businesses out of power. The electric utility companies are having trouble getting trucks out there because of the snow. We’ve been working with them,” Lehenbauer said.

All of the known stranded motorists were rescued Monday night with the assistance of a snow rescue team from Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Lehenbauer said it was “a pretty rotten problem” Tuesday dealing with the snow. Snowplows were becoming stuck in the snow, and only bulldozers could penetrate the snow-packed roads.

There have been no other injuries, although a number of slips and falls have been reported. The official death count for the storm is two, with one in Woodward and a second one in Kansas, he said.

American Red Cross has established a shelter in the Pioneer Room in the 1200 block of 9th in Woodward, but Lehenbauer said many people cannot use it because they can’t reach it.

“It’s mostly used by travelers, but the Red Cross will try to assist people if they can,” Lehenbauer said.

There still are many places that cannot be reached in the county and in Woodward city limits.

The situation in Fairview is similar to what’s being seen in communities across the area.

The city, which has a municipal electric system, was without power because of problems with the community’s rural electric wholesaler, Western Farmers, said City Manager Paul Southwick. Dave Altman, publisher of Fairview E-News, said power was restored at about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday.

An aerial survey showed many downed power lines leading to the city.

Altman said Fairview Police Department, Fairview Hospital and Major County Sheriff’s Office are operating on generator power. Police and fire personnel have been checking on elderly people and others, Altman said, and have provided some small generators for people with oxygen generating machines.

He said electrical crews worked through the night to check power lines in Fairview and replace blown transformers. Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority provided a crew from Purcell to help.

Generators were brought in to provide electrical power at Fairview’s well fields, Altman said. Volunteers have set up a warming station at the American Legion Building.

A message on the phone at Cimarron Electric Cooperative in Kingfisher advised callers the cooperative had lost its feed from its power supplier to 14 of its 16 substations, affecting 10,000 meters.

In addition, trees, poles and lines are down and are being repaired as quickly as possible, according to the phone message. There is no estimate on when power will be restored.

In Garfield County, Sheriff Jerry Niles said some roads still are bad, and some are closed due to down power lines.

Sheriff’s deputies worked all night, and some returned to work by noon Tuesday patrolling rural roads. Niles said no one was left stranded in the county. During the night, Breckinridge and Carrier Roads were closed, and service trucks and highway department trucks became stuck. Niles said those were cleared away by noon Tuesday.

“Motorists failed to take heed of all weather advisories, and that’s why we had a lot of crashes yesterday,” Niles said Tuesday. “Accidents were mainly on paved roads and not in the country. They were mostly Enid PD or highway patrol.”

Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported roads remained closed in Alfalfa County and troopers had stopped working minor accidents because of attention to safety issues around the area. Electrical lines were down in a number of areas in northwest Oklahoma. Some roads are closed not for snow, but because electrical crews are working, and the roads cannot be reopened until they finish.

East and west roads reportedly drifted the worst. Oklahoma Department of Transportation brought in five trucks from the Antlers area to assist local crews, according to OHP.

Some people were stranded in their cars, although OHP had contact with them throughout their ordeal. The last ones were rescued between 2:30 and 3 a.m., according to OHP.

U.S. 412 between Woodward and Guymon was closed, and U.S. 270 from Woodward to the Dewey County line also was closed late Tuesday.

Dave Altman, who publishes Fairview E-News, contributed to this story.

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