Crews Fight The Elements To Restore Power

Sunday, February 1st 2009, 5:52 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

UNDATED -- In Oklahoma, 6,728 rural electric cooperative customers are still without power on Sunday and some customers could stay in the dark until the end of the month.

Utility companies say they're working around the clock to get power restored to customers, but it takes hours of labor just to get handfuls of people up and running.

It's quiet inside Lake Region Electric's dispatch room, but power crews are still hard at work. Outside, it's tough going.

"It was a lot more damage to the trees and the timber line and poles than I expected to see. It's just devastating. Some of the areas we drove through, it's just very devastating," said Hamid Vahdatipour, Lake Region Electric CEO.

Tuesday night, half of Lake Region's 2,300 customers lost power. That number is now down to 475 people. Workers say dead tree limbs, thick mud and steep hills are the reason they're still in the dark.

"We had a lot of areas that are damaged that are very hilly," said Vahdatipour.

Even though it's sunny outside and the weather's great, it's very slow going at this point to get people back with electricity.

"This is by far the worst ice we've had in our area," said Charles Krozier, Ozark Electric Manager.

Ozark Electric serves 12,000 customers in Adair County. Half of them are still without power. Officials say many of them will stay in the dark for three more weeks.

"The farther we go to the end of the line, we still see trees on the line, poles broke, lines down," said Krozier. "It's very difficult to even get to them, much less having to put them up after that."

In many areas, there are more repairmen working to set a power pole than there are customers connected to that power pole.

Ozark Electric says the number of powerless customers is at 6,253.

Lake Region says full power should be restored by Wednesday.