The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

August 9, 2011

Powering back up

ENID — Crews were working Tuesday to restore power to Enid and northwest Oklahoma residents left without electricity following Monday’s damaging storm.

Mike Honigsberg, Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management director, said wind gusts were as high as 72 to 96 mph, damaging power poles and lines throughout the area. Power was knocked out on the north side of Enid, and Billings, Covington, Fairmont, Waukomis, Douglas, Drummond, Lahoma, Meno and Garber also were without power.

As of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, OG&E Electric Services System Watch showed 1,024 customers in Enid still without power. Other outages were Ames, 296; Douglas, 340; Drummond, 115; Fairmont, 142; Garber, 588; and Waukomis, 93.

Storms also caused power outages in the Ames and Drummond water fields serving the city of Enid. City officials do not know how long it will take to restore power and have asked residential, industry and retail customers to reduce water usage to the minimum necessary.

“Reserve water is on hand for fire and emergency services, but reduced water usage is necessary to maintain a safe reserve,” said Becky Hodgen, city spokeswoman.

Some areas might not have power restored for several days.

Cooling centers have been established in Enid, Garber, Drummond, Meno and Kingfisher, where residents can stay while utility crews work to restore electricity.

New Hope Church, 614 N. Garland, has been opened as a cooling center in Enid by Cimarron Valley Chapter of American Red Cross. In Garber, the fire department, 437 Main, has been opened as a cooling center. Other stations in the area are Drummond Fire Department, Meno Town Hall and Kingfisher Health Department, 124 E. Sheridan.

Garfield County Expo Center Pavilion sustained some roof damage, as did many other houses and businesses.

Undersheriff Jerry Niles said there was extensive storm damage throughout the county. Zion Lutheran Church in Fairmont lost part of its roof, and several homes in Waukomis were damaged by 90-foot highline electrical poles that landed on residences. Waukomis Fire Department was damaged when the wind caught an open overhead door and pushed it into the windshield of a fire truck.

Oklahoma 132 south of Drum-mond was closed Tuesday because electrical poles and lines were down. Wood Road west of Waukomis also was closed. Niles said damage extended from Lahoma to Garber to Covington and southward. North central and northwest portions of Enid were spared serious damage, he said.

“These were straight-line winds, there was no circulation,” Niles said. “It came extremely fast with very little warning. There were bursts of up to 96 mph winds at Lahoma.”

The only reported injuries were two residents of Golden Oaks Retirement Center, who were struck by glass while sitting in the atrium. Niles said there has been a coordinated effort between the sheriff’s office and the county commissioners, as well as Oklahoma Depart-ment of Transportation and Okla-homa Highway Patrol, to coordinate assistance.

A Garfield County deputy assisted OHP Monday night as the wind caused three semitrailer rigs to overturn. Deputies still were out Tuesday morning on traffic control, turning people back from closed roads.

“People don’t understand when a sign says road closed, they need to turn around,” Niles said.

John Little, regional manager for OG&E, said 25 percent of Enid was out of electricity at the height of the storm. On Tuesday, crews were working to replace 35 poles blown down in Enid, and near Drummond between 32 and 35 poles were downed. Seventeen crews, both OG&E crews and contract crews, arrived in Enid Tuesday morning to assist with repairs.

“We did the assessment (Monday) night and the guys are out there getting it done. I don’t know how long it will be before all service is restored,” Little said. “We encourage customers when they see lights going on around them, if they don’t have service, to call and file an additional outage. That generates another ticket, if the original was overlooked or crews thought they were hooked up.”

Major problems also faced OG&E personnel in Garber, where a high voltage transmission line collapsed on a high voltage district feeder line and all fell to the ground. An innovative approach was being used to restore electricity until the problem is repaired. Crews put up a temporary pole to get power back up, but Little said it would be later before electricity is restored.

In Enid some housing additions were more seriously damaged than others. Electricity in Westminster Estates, west of Oakwood Country  Club, was expected to be back on Tuesday night or possibly early today. The Willow Lake area is tied into the circuit going to Golden Oaks and will not be back on until sometime today.

Heritage Hills area was expected to be restored late Tuesday. Little said some trees in the Heritage Hills area needed to be cleared so workers could replace downed poles.

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