Archive for Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jefferson County begins recovery

Power slowly being restored to parts of the hard-hit area

Ice melts off trees Thursday at Kansas University as a student walks on Jayhawk Boulevard. Temperatures were above freezing for most of the day, erasing remnants of Monday night's ice storm.

Ice melts off trees Thursday at Kansas University as a student walks on Jayhawk Boulevard. Temperatures were above freezing for most of the day, erasing remnants of Monday night's ice storm.

December 13, 2007

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Power still out in much of Jefferson County

After three days of clouds, rain and ice, the sun came out. The melting began today, but much of the region remains packed with ice. 6News reporter Laura McHugh explains how thousands in nearby counties started their third day in a row without power or heat. Enlarge video

City opening temporary brush drop-off site

The City of Lawrence is opening a brush drop-off site to help with clean-up after the storm. The site opens tomorrow morning and will stay open through Monday. Enlarge video

Storm could bring 5 to 7 inches of snow

A winter storm is expected to bring 5 to 7 inches of snow to Lawrence today. Jennifer Schack, 6News chief meteorologist, said there will be sunshine in the morning, but the clouds will thicken about noon. Light snow is expected to start about 4 p.m. and pick up after 7 p.m. Schack said to be careful on the roads when snow starts to accumulate in the evening. There is a chance for light snow to continue until noon Saturday. Today's high is 29 degrees.

Lawrence provides brush removal

The city of Lawrence is providing limb and brush removal.

¢ Tree limbs and brush from residents' private property can be taken to the city's drop-off site, 1420 E. 11th St., between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. today through Monday. There is no fee. Limbs will be chipped and used as mulch throughout the city.

¢ Limbs not dropped off must be properly bundled and placed with trash for removal. Each bundle should not exceed 5 feet in length, 18 inches in diameter or 65 pounds.

¢ Parks and Recreation crews will canvass neighborhoods beginning Monday to collect tree debris too large to dispose of in other ways. Residents must have tree limbs stacked along the curb to be picked up.

The sun was out, the ice was melting, but on Thursday many Jefferson County residents still did not have electricity.

The good news was that power slowly was being restored in some areas.

"We have power here in Oskaloosa in most of the town," Jefferson County Clerk Linda Buttron said Thursday afternoon. "The power company came in late last night (Wednesday) with quite a few crews and they were able to get most of the town up and running today."

Buttron was one of several county employees and officials who have worked in the emergency operations center since it was activated Wednesday morning in response to Tuesday's ice storm.

There also was good news for the Oskaloosa school district. Superintendent Jon Pfau said he expected to make a decision Thursday night about whether to hold classes today. Meanwhile, nearby McLouth school district called off class today. For cancellations, go to www.ljworld.com.

Pfau said he toured the district's facilities and found few problems. All of the heat was back on, he said. Food freezers were able to continue running after Tuesday's ice storm because of partial power. One walk-in freezer was lost but food service employees were able to move the food to a safer location, Pfau said.

"There has been a lot of limb damage around our campus but none hit the facility or caused any damage on (power) lines," he said. "Overall I think we got off pretty lucky."

The Jefferson County Courthouse in Oskaloosa reopened Thursday. Grocery stores also were open in Oskaloosa. Nursing homes in the county were using generators for power, Buttron said.

Oskaloosa and most of the county is served by Westar Energy. Leavenworth-Jefferson Electric Cooperative in McLouth also serves part of the county.

While the power situation has improved in Oskaloosa, Buttron said she didn't think that overall the county had improved much since Wednesday, when 75 percent of the county was without power. She said outages were fluctuating, as crews worked to restore power.

Temperatures reached just above freezing Thursday.

"As it warms in some of these areas we expect to have some ice melt off power lines and trees," said Doug Sterbenz, Westar executive vice president and chief operating officer. "As branches fall or return to their normal position as the ice falls off, we expect more outages. This is a normal phase of an ice storm."

Late Thursday afternoon, Nortonville and Valley Falls did not have power, according to emergency officials. Ozawkie's power was "on and off," Meriden power was "spotty" and McLouth had partial power. The power was on in Perry. In Winchester, a third of the town had power, but extremely low water pressure was a problem for many.

Jeri Price and her husband Tracy drove 25 miles southwest of their home to Ozawkie with their kids, ages 8 and 10, to take showers at a friends house.

Tracy Price, a volunteer Winchester firefighter, said it may be two days before pressure is improved.

Said Jeri Price of the storm, "I don't know how you can prepare for something like that."

Westar reported that more than 1,600 customers in Jefferson County were without power. Leavenworth-Jefferson reported 1,500 customers still awaited power. The company posted information on its Web site saying that estimated restoration times for most of its Jefferson County customers could be Saturday night. For customers in Valley Falls it could be Tuesday night or later.

Westar has brought in linemen from 20 states - more than 1,200 of them - to help with power restoration in Kansas, officials said. In addition, 1,000 tree trimmers are clearing debris from lines. Westar is continuing to identify more crews available to assist.

Kansas Electric Cooperatives, which includes Leavenworth-Jefferson, have more than 1,000 linemen from private contractors and electric cooperatives in nine other states assisting in Kansas.

"As long as our co-ops need help, we will keep bringing people in," said Stacy Marston, coordinator for mutual aid assistance for KEC.

Comments

Michael Capra 7 years, 5 months ago

weststar cant pull there heads out so dont expect power soon

glockenspiel 7 years, 5 months ago

Quit your whining. God what a bunch of losers.

countrygirl 7 years, 5 months ago

Try going without electricity, heat and water for a few days and see how much complaining you do. Untill you've been there, you have no idea how hard it is to deal with.

hornhunter 7 years, 5 months ago

p&c, Good job, a lot of the people don't understand this, they just bitch and whine when they flip the switch and things are still dark. They should also be thankful that the base load coal fired power plants are producing, because it would take even more time to thaw out the wind generators. Wind turbines and ice don't play well together.

Dixie Jones 7 years, 5 months ago

I appreciate Westar getting our power on as quickly as they possibly could we went 3 days without power but wasnt because they weren't working very hard to get us back on. there were alot of people out. These men and women work in conditions most of you all set inside and say "man im sure glad im not out in that" . they walk through areas that they are unfamiluar with , in the dark dragging chain saws and heavy equipment with them,.in efforts to make sure our power is on, they put in hrs that only some people hear about. i truely appreciate westar and what a awesome crew they have working for them. and the next time i see one of them im going to remember that cold cold ice storm that hit us and im going to buy them a cup of coffee and tell them they are greatly appreciated. so next time when the wind is blowing and its 19 degrees out in the middle of the night and your power goes out...... think of who is out there getting that back on for you...and think of what they have left behind at home so that you may have power....i do everytime my husband goes out to climb that pole for you when your power goes out cause im a wife of a leavenworth jefferson line man.

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