Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 1, 2007 -- Situation Update 4
EFFECTS OF WINTER STORM CONTINUE IN PANHANDLE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) received the following reports related to the winter storm that moved through the Panhandle on Friday and Saturday. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff remains in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
Portions of the Panhandle continue to deal with power outages, phone service disruption and travel difficulties caused by the strong winter storm that hit the area last Thursday and Friday. Especially hard hit were Cimarron and Texas counties where more than 12 inches of snow fell in some areas. Rain, ice and winds in excess of 55 mph in some areas, also accompanied the weather system.
None reported at this time.
- In order to check on residents in isolated communities and rural areas, the Oklahoma National Guard is sending 13 personnel from the armory in Enid to Cimarron County. OEM and local officials have received numerous calls from individuals in Oklahoma and other states that have been unable to contact loved ones in some areas of the Panhandle. The National Guard personnel will use six Humvees, to assist local officials as they complete welfare checks in Cimarron County.
- OEM, Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) personnel continue to assist with response, recovery efforts in Texas and Cimarron counties.
Current estimates show about 4,500 Tri-County Electric Cooperative customers remain without power, with the bulk of those outages being reported in the towns of Adams, Optima and Kenton as well as rural Texas and Cimarron county areas. Today power was returned to the towns of Felt and Wheeless as substantial progress was made in repairing distribution lines throughout the area. Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports all of the municipalities that regained power last night (Hardesty, Hooker, Tyrone, Turpin, Texhoma and Boise City) are still receiving electricity although these communities have experienced brief outages throughout the day. In addition to crews sent by six other electric cooperatives from across Oklahoma, Tri-County has enlisted the help of four contract construction crews. Preliminary estimates show damages to the electric system will exceed $1 to $1.5 million at a minimum.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports Panhandle Telephone Cooperative has 250 customers without telephone service. The telephone system is rotating its generators to 37 different remote switches to keep batteries charged for its back up power. Panhandle anticipates all services will be restored today.
All Oklahoma highways in Cimarron and Texas counties have been cleared, and all are open except US-287 north from Boise City, which remains closed at the request of Colorado transportation officials. Late this afternoon, strong south winds created snow drifts along east-west roads. No roads are closed at this time, but they will become extremely slick across Cimarron County. Additionally, US-64, which had been cleared, is now melting and beginning to freeze. In many other areas, roads remain slick in spots. Three additional ODOT personnel are working with OEM to secure access for electric restoration crews to affected power lines. ODOT personnel are breaking up ice and snow packs. Some ODOT workers have been out 24 hours or more in pairs, taking turns driving and sleeping in order to get the job done. ODOT will continue operations until at least midnight.
For Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385. For road conditions in other affected states, call: Colorado 303-639-1111; Kansas 800-585-7623; New Mexico 800-432-4269; and Texas 800-452-9292.
Shelters and Mass Feeding
The following shelter locations are open to provide hot meals and warm beds for residents without power and travelers stranded due to road conditions.
- Texas County Activity Center in Guymon
- Fairgrounds Building in Boise City
- Community Center in Felt
Texas County Emergency Management reports the Texas County Activity Center in Guymon continues to operate as the staging area for Cimarron County for personnel, supplies and equipment. Power is back on in most towns in Texas County. Some rural areas in Texas County are still without power and it could be some time before electric service is restored. A chainsaw crew of 15 to 20 Baptist men will soon arrive to assist with clean up. Also, a new crew of volunteers from Southern Baptist Men's Disaster Unit out of Hooker is coming in to relieve the previous crew to continue cooking meals for the shelters and first responders. We will continue to prepare meals for Cimarron County as long as needed. Volunteers will be housed at the Texas County Activity Center as long as they are here. Arrangements are being made to get heavy equipment to our neighbors in Cimarron County. We look for that to happen within the next 24 hours, if not sooner.
Next situation update: As necessary.