Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 3, 2007 -- Situation Update 6
WINTER STORM RESPONSE CONTINUES 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.
State and local officials continue to assist Panhandle residents impacted by last week?s winter storm. Especially hard hit were Cimarron and Texas counties where upwards of four feet of snowfall and 20-foot snow drifts continue to hamper response efforts.
No fatalities reported. One injury reported. A stranded Cimarron County woman who is a cancer patient in need of medication and treatment was transported from her home to the hospital in Boise City.
Today Gov. Brad Henry will amend his State of Emergency declaration first issued on Dec. 21 to include all of Cimarron and Beaver Counties. The Dec. 21 declaration already declares a State of Emergency in Texas County. The declaration provides a formal mechanism for local governments within Beaver, Texas and Cimarron counties to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state's disaster public assistance program.
Oklahoma National Guard personnel continue to assist with welfare checks on residents in isolated communities and rural areas in Cimarron County. Teams of local officials, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Guard personnel are completing the welfare checks after OEM and local officials received numerous calls from individuals in Oklahoma and other states when they were unable to contact loved ones in some areas of the Panhandle. OEM is assisting with coordination efforts from the State EOC and the local command post located in Boise City.
Yesterday, the teams completed sweeps of Kenton and Wheeless areas in far western and northwestern Cimarron County. ODOT opened up Black Mesa Road -- a 10-mile stretch from Kenton to the Colorado state line. The team assisted about 20 stranded families despite four feet of snow and drifts topping 20 feet in some areas. In addition to transporting the female cancer patient to Boise City, the Kenton Team assisted a male dialysis patient in need of medication. Additionally, the Kenton Team located a male diabetic patient in need of medication off SH 287 near the Colorado-Oklahoma state line. The medication was air-dropped from an OHP airplane, landing miraculously only 15-feet from his home. Kenton Team members also made entry two miles north into Colorado where they reunited a woman and her daughter with her husband and son. The woman is a nurse in Boise City and was unable to return home after working the late shift Friday night. She hadn't talked to her family since Friday evening. After reuniting her family, the woman assisted the team in locating and completing welfare checks on many neighbors. Today the team will complete welfare checks on six to seven more homes in the Kenton area.
Another team searched the Wheeless area and was able to dig out five families. The last family to be rescued was rationing food between its six children. The team provided medication for one of the children whose medication supply had run out. Today the Wheeless Team will continue to work south of the Wheeless area. Once they cleared snow-packed roadways, team members also assisted residents whose car batteries wouldn't start. These are just a few of the many heroic stories that have come out of this state, local effort.
In addition to continued work in the Kenton and Wheeless areas, today the teams will make sweeps in the Ranch Road (north and east of Kenton) as well as the Black Mesa State Park areas.
Additionally, an Oklahoma National Guard Chinook helicopter and crew of four continue to assist with hay drops for stranded cattle in Colorado. The State of Colorado requested the helicopter and crew under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which is a mutual aid agreement between states. The Guard personnel are working out of Pueblo, Colorado. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Food, Forestry and Agriculture are working to finalize a program to assist Oklahoma Panhandle farmers with livestock feeding needs.
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports about 2,500 Tri-County Electric Cooperative customers remain without power. Power has been returned in all municipalities throughout Cimarron and Texas Counties. Primarily the outages continue for rural customers in an area of southeastern Cimarron County and the western one-third of Texas County. In one area alone, eight miles of cross arms are down on a distribution line, OAEC reports. Moreover, in many cases, significant snow drifts on county roads are limiting access for power restoration crews. In addition to crews sent by six other electric cooperatives from across Oklahoma (38 personnel), Tri-County continues to work with four contract construction crews.
None reported at this time.
ODOT reports almost all highways in Cimarron County are clear however, there are some small areas of patchy ice on the paved shoulders. Blowing snow is possible in some areas and these areas are subject to slick spots if it does occur. SH 325 west of Boise City has one lane open. Roads in Texas and Beaver counties are clear however, they remain slick. 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
A shelter continues to operate at the Fairgrounds Building in Boise City. The Texas County Activity Center in Guymon remains a staging location for supplies, equipment and personnel. The Southern Baptist Men's Disaster Unit out of Hooker continues to prepare meals for displaced residents and travelers as well as first responders.
Next situation update: As necessary.