Crews from Tri-County Electric work to bring power back to some of the many Oklahoma Panhandle homes that were without electricity following a severe thunderstorm that struck the area Monday night. A post on the cooperative’s Facebook page this morning said power had been restored to 77 percent of the meters affected by the storm. Crews continue working extended hours to restore power. Courtesy photos
The storm packed wind gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour which resulted in the loss of nearly 200 power poles
• L&T staff report
HOOKER, Okla. – A summer storm blew into Tri-County Electric Cooperative’s service territory in the evening hours Monday causing widespread damage to the cooperative’s electric system.
The storm packed wind gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour which resulted in the loss of nearly 200 power poles. At the height of the storm, more than 9,000 meters were without power. As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, around 5,000 meters remained without power.
Crews from other cooperatives were being called in Tuesday for mutual aid assistance to help with power restoration efforts. In addition to the cooperative’s four crews, there were up to 30 extra hands helping to replace the damaged poles and restore power to members.
“Progress may be slowed due to the conditions and moisture received with the storm,” said Zac Perkins, TCEC assistant general manager. “As the day progresses, we will continue to assess the widespread damage to our system. We anticipate finding additional poles down.”
Members are urged to report outages if they have not already by calling the office at 580-652-2418 or using the mobile application for smart phones, TCEC Mobile. Members should consider any downed line energized and dangerous and to report any downed lines to the cooperative.
At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Tri-County said power had been restored to about 5,700 meters since early morning Tuesday, with more than 3,300 remaining off pending the replacement and repair of nearly 200 poles damaged during the storm.
“Our ability to recover and rebuild from this storm is greatly enhanced with the help from our fellow cooperatives,” Perkins said. “We are thankful for member support and understanding during this recovery period.”
Around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Erin Moore, a spokesman for Tri-County, said 6,300 meters had been restored with 2,700 more remaining without power.
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the cooperative issued a press release stating power had been restored to approximately 6,300 meters from a high of 9,000 meters since the early morning hours of July 1.
“More than 2,700 meters remain off with 30 poles replaced today out of the 270 damaged by the storm,” the release said. “Crews will continue their restoration efforts Wednesday morning. Assessment during the daylight revealed additional poles lost and damaged equipment. More damages are expected to be found as assessment and restoration continue.”
Tri-County urged members who were without power to plan for an extended outage and make arrangements accordingly.
“A large majority of members will see their power restored by the evening hours of Friday, July 4, weather permitting,” the release said.
Perkins said in the press release, Tri-County is making continual progress towards complete restoration.
“Our number one goal is the safety of employees, members and the electric system,” he said. “If you are using a generator, be sure it is connected properly to prevent deadly back feed onto power lines.”
The cooperative also offered these safety tips for handling power outages.
• Generators: If you plan to use a generator, know how to operate it safely. Never use a generator or other appliance that runs on gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal indoors, as carbon monoxide is deadly.
• Supplies: Assemble supplies, such as an emergency kit with a battery powered radio, flashlights, water, canned food, extra blankets, a first aid kit, prescription medicines and special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
• Food safety tips: Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed.