WWW2k (Wild Winter Weather 2k) hits Oklahoma hardgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Storm brings Y2K problems a year too late
The Daily Oklahoman 12/28/2000 By Jay C. Grelen Staff Writer
Where Y2K was a bust, its cousin WWW2K is a humdinger. As the year winds down, Wild Winter Weather 2000 is causing many of the problems in southeast Oklahoma that computer experts predicted for the first day of this year, with destruction of trees thrown in to show it means business.
With Oklahoma on ice Wednesday for a third day, Gov. Frank Keating declared each of Oklahomas 77 counties a disaster area.
The Christmas storm had disrupted power to more than 170,000 homes and businesses by Wednesday, said Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the state Department of Civil Emergency Management.
Keatings declaration will allow the state to continue to provide state resources to communities that have been without electricity and water for several days, Ooten said. Some areas could wait as long as seven days for electricity, and that is not accounting for any havoc that an expected New Years storm may wreak.
The Oklahoma National Guard trucked water to several areas, including Talihina, Weleetka and Holdenville. The Guard also was transporting cots for emergency shelters in Poteau, McAlester and Seminole, she said.
Ive never seen the power down this long, said Don Goforth, manager of the Poteau Valley Improvement Authoritys water plant in Poteau. The old-timers around here are surprised.
The weather also is causing demands on salt and sand suppliers. The piles of salt at a Picher salt pit are gone. Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials have had to call on salt suppliers in Kansas.
Street department officials at Tulsa, where all salt on hand has been mixed with sand and spread on ice-packed thoroughfares, have had to go as far as Utah to order the precious commodity.
Streets Supervisor Lorenzo Price said that a shipment of 200 tons of Utah salt was due to arrive today at his yard on 23rd Street, just in time for the next approaching weather episode.
Price said he has plenty of sand, but has had to pay a premium price for the salt $84 per ton. He said it takes from 800 to 1,000 tons of salt-sand mix to take care of his part of Tulsa following each winter event.
Many other communities around Tulsa do not use salt.
Too corrosive for cars, said Melanie Bolduc, a public works supervisor at Sand Springs. But we use a lot of sand. Weve been dumping 150 tons a day. Our street guys, who deserve a pat on the back, have been working 12-hour shifts.
Bolduc said there is concern about sand shortage. The freezing temperatures have closed dredging pump operations nearby on the Arkansas River.
Weve found a supplier at Bixby, she said. If this keeps up, well all be looking for sand.
The storm is the worst to hit in at least a decade, said officials with the National Weather Service. The Panhandle and northwest portions of Oklahoma were mainly hit with snow. While ice plagued the states eastern half, parts of Ellis and Woodward counties received as much as 7 inches of snow.
Two inches of snow, sleet and freezing rain covered a diagonal portion of the state from the northeast corner to the Texas Panhandle.
David Hathcoat, Adas city manager, was one of more than 30,000 people across south-central Oklahoma who was without electricity or water Tuesday and Wednesday.
I had several people call me at home late Tuesday asking if I could help get their water back on, he said. I just told them that if they got their water back on, let me know and Id come over, because mine was still off.
With a layer of frozen rain as thick as 3 inches in some areas, the southeast quadrant of Oklahoma was among the hardest hit.
Ive never seen anything like this in my whole life, said Robert Peevey, civil defense director for McCurtain County. Peevey has lived in Broken Bow all of his 62 years. Weve got houses that have trees in them.
The story was much the same for other areas in Pontotoc and surrounding counties. Thousands of trees were broken, battered and destroyed, knocking down power lines and blocking roadways.
More than 26,000 customers were without power in the Ada-Ardmore sector, said Brian Alford, spokesman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. Several thousand more were without service in an area as far east as Fort Smith, Ark.
So far, we havent been able to determine the extent of all the damage, Alford said. Weve got a lot of poles damaged and an awful lot of lines down or falling down.
Power companies faced several problems restoring electricity to southeast Oklahoma. As soon as a crew had repaired one power line, an ice-laden tree or a limb would fall and snap another, Goforth said.
The story was the same in Davis and McAlester. You may have a 2-foot limb drop and smash a car, said Randy Green, McAlester city manager. They are just falling out of the sky.
A second problem was the location of the broken lines.
The repair crews are working as hard as they can, Goforth said. Our power crosses the mountains and river bottoms. They cant drive to it. They have to walk. It goes cross- country, and some of its wild and rugged.
The power disruptions have, in turn, cut the water supply to towns like Poteau, McAlester, Ada and Davis. Without electricity, water plants cant pump water to customers. In Poteau, which lost its water early Tuesday, officials have asked the few customers who still have water to use it for drinking only.
Angie Woolmans home in Davis has radiant gas heat and a gas stove but little else.
We have been two days without electricity, she said Wednesday. Most of the trees in town are disastrous. They are breaking apart right and left. You cant even find a restaurant open because theres no water. Its kind of hairy right now. We noticed (Tuesday) night our water pressure was very, very low. We had no water, not even a drop, this morning.
In Davis, Sooners grocery store was running on partial power. Its lights and cash registers were running, but refrigerators and freezers werent operating. Bottled water was selling briskly, a manager said.
McAlester which was bone dry Tuesday was back to about 80 percent water production Wednesday.
This keeps the hospital out of a critical stage, Green said.
Cleanup has been hindered by worsening road conditions, he said. Now what we have is a glaze of ice over highways and streets. Driving is too hazardous. Weve had to pull city crews from cutting limbs to salt and sanding.
Help for McAlester and other towns arrived from out of state Wednesday. OG&E sent 25 tree crews, as well as more line repairmen. Sixteen bucket trucks from Kansas Gas and Electric left Wichita, Kan., at 5 a.m. Wednesday, headed for Ardmore, where they expected to stay for four or five days.
The next few days could be telling for McCurtain County, which is almost without power entirely, and restoration of power could take a week, Peevy said.
Wednesday afternoon, Goforth was awaiting the arrival of two massive generators from OK Industries in Arkansas. About 20,000 people in Le Flore County about half of the authoritys customers were without water, he said. OK Industries has a poultry processing plant in Heavener.
The traffics been moving nicely, said Mandy Turvey, executive director of Heaveners Chamber of Commerce. City hall and the florist were closed.
Poteaus problems began on Christmas Eve when the frozen ground shifted and broke a water main, spilling about 1 million gallons of water and creating a giant ice slick.
Our guys skated around the hole to fix it, Goforth said.
Statewide, power outages reported as of 2 p.m. Wednesday were 26,000 for OG&E, 34,000 for Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and 85,000 for rural electric cooperatives, Ooten said.
OG&E outages include 8,500 in Shawnee; 7,000 in Muskogee; 5,000 in Pauls Valley, Purcell and communities in between; and 4,800 in Sulphur. The remaining OG&E outages were scattered through southeastern Oklahoma, Ooten said.
Public Service Co. power outages included 6,000 in McAlester, 4,000 in Idabel and 4,000 in Broken Bow. The remaining outages were scattered throughout the Public Service Co. area, Ooten said.
The rural electric cooperatives outages were scattered in south central and southeastern Oklahoma, she said.
Peoples Electric Cooperative supplies power to more than 17,000 people in 11 southeastern Oklahoma counties. More than one-third of those people were without power Wednesday, according to spokeswoman Monica Hasler.
We have more than 200 poles down, not to mention all the lines that are down or knocked loose, she said. We brought in nearly 30 extra repair people from other co-ops. CONTRIBUTING: Staff writers Scott Cooper, John Greiner and Don Diehl and state correspondents Roy Deering and Sheila Stogsdill
-- robert waldrop (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 28, 2000