Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 7
January 28, 2009 – 5 p.m.
WINTER STORM CONTINUES TO IMPACT STATE
Due to the severe winter weather, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains at Level Two activation, which involves extended operating hours for key personnel. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) remains in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
A State of Emergency continues for all 77 Oklahoma counties, per executive order issued by Gov. Brad Henry on Monday. The executive order marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary. Additionally, the order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The Governor also issued an executive order aimed at helping utility crews handle storm-related repairs, allowing a 30-day waiver on permit requirements for use of overweight and oversized vehicles.
FATALITIES AND INJURIES
Two individuals died Monday in two separate crashes; one on the Turner Turnpike near Chandler and one on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Afton, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP). Since Monday, OHP has worked 1,150 weather related collisions, 200 involving injury. Roads remain slick and hazardous in many areas of the state. Travel is discouraged.
According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, 27,017 homes and businesses are without electric service across the state.
Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports 23,191 electric cooperative customers are without power. The largest number of outages continues in Cherokee, Adair and Sequoyah counties. Electric restoration crews report .75 to 1.25 inches of ice accumulation on power lines. The peak outages occurred late Tuesday night when 38,788 customers were without power.
Below is a list of current affected electric cooperatives, the location of their office and the number of power outages.
Cookson Hills Electric (Stigler) – 2,547
East Central Oklahoma Electric (Okmulgee) – 1,500
Kiamichi Electric Cooperative (Wilburton) -- 120
Lake Region Electric Cooperative (Hulbert) – 8,700
Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (Vinita) – 245
Ozarks Electric Cooperative (Fayetteville, Ark.) – 9,915
People’s Electric Cooperative (Ada) – 164
OG&E reports 1,004 outages across the state, including 368 in Porum. Other outages are reported in Muskogee, Braggs and Warner.
The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority reports 300 outages in Stilwell and 2,500 in Tahlequah.
AEP-PSO Oklahoma reports 22 outages.
SHELTERS AND FEEDING
Shelters remain open to assist those impacted by the ice storm at the following locations:
Muskogee -- First United Methodist Church, 600 E. Okmulgee – operated by American Red Cross
Stilwell -- First Baptist Church, 801 W. Hickory – operated by American Red Cross
Westville -- Assembly of God, Hwy. 62 East – operated by American Red Cross
Tahlequah -- First United Methodist Church, 300 W. Delaware – operated by American Red Cross
Cookson – Cookson Community Center, 31521 S. 540 Road. This is a partnership with the Cherokee Nation. The Red Cross is providing volunteers and food. The Cherokee Nation is providing cots and blankets.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief continues to provide meals to the shelters from their mobile kitchen, located at the Muskogee Fairgrounds. Red Cross is transporting the meals from the Southern Baptist kitchen to the shelters.
Sunny skies will continue through the weekend. Temperatures will be in the 40s on Thursday, warming into the 50s Friday through Sunday.
OEM personnel remain in Muskogee, Tahlequah and other affected areas where they are assisting with resource requests and coordination. Tuesday, OEM worked with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to deploy industrial size generators to Eufaula for shelter operations. Today OEM deployed a generator to Cherokee County to support continued operation of a rural water system.
Resources staged in the east, southeast area include those needed for shelter operations like bottled water, cots, blankets and food. Additionally, FEMA has provided industrial size generators for use in shelters and to keep water treatment facilities on line.
ODOT crews report progress through the day with clearing efforts. Roadways are mostly cleared, however some slick spots and isolated patches of ice remain on roadways, bridges and overpasses. Re-freezing of bridges, overpasses and other slick areas is expected. Drivers should remain cautious and alert to "black ice" conditions, which looks wet on the roadway but is a thin layer of ice. Wet and slushy roadways can be slick. For tomorrow morning's drive, motorists are encouraged to stagger commutes, if possible.
Officials urge drivers to heed the following safety tips:
Be aware that conditions are continually changing; drive cautiously and for the conditions on the roadway.
Allow extra space between vehicles so there is adequate distance for braking in wet and icy conditions.
Stay at least 200 feet behind road clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
Be aware of "black ice" conditions, which looks wet on the roadway but is a thin layer of ice.
Please be patient and allow extra time in reaching destinations.
Additionally, the Heartland Flyer is not running Wednesday morning due to weather conditions. It is anticipated that, barring any further weather problems, the train will run a normal schedule Wednesday night, departing at 5:25 p.m. from Ft. Worth, Texas and arriving at 9:39 p.m. in Oklahoma City. For further information, Amtrak can be contacted at 1-800-USA-RAIL.
To check CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS call the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety's ROAD CONDITIONS HOTLINE 888-425-2385. For out-of-state road conditions: Arkansas 800-245-1672; Missouri 800-222-6400; Texas 800-452-9292
PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES
Public health staff remains in Muskogee, Tahlequah and other areas assisting with shelter operations, county health issues and ensuring local citizens’ health needs are met. Working with local physicians, urgent-cares, and tracking nursing homes to ensure all residences are safe and secure. The Oklahoma State Department of Health tracked a significant increase in emergency room visits due in part to motor vehicle accidents and falls. The healthcare system continued to operate without any problems and all facilities were fully staffed. Tulsa and Oklahoma City EMSA also responded to sledding accidents in which patients were transported. Public health officials have seen a 78 percent increase in emergency medical system dispatches across the state and a 58 percent increase in transports due to injuries received during this storm. Public health officials remind the public that the next few evenings and mornings will be slick and hazardous and when venturing outside they should be cautious.
Numerous government offices, schools and businesses remain closed today.
For non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, Oklahomans are urged to call 2-1-1. Since Monday, 2-1-1 specialists have received more than 300 calls from individuals requesting information related to the ice storm. More than half of the calls were received by Tulsa 2-1-1 which serves a 12-county region including Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah counties. Call centers in Ada and Oklahoma City received 85 and 50 calls, respectively. 2-1-1 specialists in Bartlesville, Oklahoma City and Woodward also reported receiving storm related calls.
The 2-1-1 line is statewide and provides one phone number to call from your home or cell phone where a specialist can assess the caller’s needs and determine what service providers in the area are best equipped to provide assistance. 2-1-1 services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Due to high call volumes, you may receive a busy signal when calling 2-1-1. Should you experience this, please leave a message at the prompt or remain on the line and a specialist will be with you as soon as possible. 2-1-1 Oklahoma consists of 7 call regions operational in all 77 Oklahoma counties. The call regions are located in the following:
Ada/Southeastern OK: 2-1-1 or 580-332-0558
Bartlesville/Northeastern OK: 2-1-1 or 918-336-2255
Enid/North Central OK: 2-1-1 or 580-237-4357
Lawton/Southwest OK: 2-1-1 or 580-355-7575
OKC Metro/Central OK: 2-1-1 or 405-286-4057
Tulsa Area/Green Country OK: 2-1-1 or 918-836-4357
Woodward/Northwest OK: 2-1-1 or 580-256-6819
For more information, visit www.211oklahoma.org.
Tahlequah/Cherokee County Emergency Management reports Tahlequah Public Works Authority has about 200 customers without power in the city. Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) reports 8,700 outages. No official word has been given on when all power will be restored to the area. A majority of Cherokee County is affected by this storm with some scattered power outages in Wagoner County and Braggs in Muskogee County.
LREC predicts that more customers may lose power as trees and power lines continue to break under the load of the heavy ice and cause new power interruptions. Coop officials estimate that the power restoration efforts may last through the middle of the next week.
Moore Emergency Management reports residential streets are still covered in 1 to 2 inches of frozen sleet but the arterial streets have been bladed and treated. The city is still working to complete today, sanitation routes that were not finished on Monday.
Okmulgee County Emergency Management reports they worked with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to provide assistance to stranded motorists on I-40 between Henryetta and the Tiger Mountain area. Emergency management volunteers also assisted in looking for storm damage and checking on motorists along roads within the county.