Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 5, 2007 -- Situation Update 8
STATE CONTINUES TO ASSIST WITH PANHANDLE WINTER STORM RESPONSE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) received the following reports related to the winter storm that moved through the Panhandle on Friday and Saturday. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is assisting with coordination efforts from the State EOC and the local command post located in Boise City.
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 snow fell and high winds created up to 20-foot snow drifts in some areas.
No fatalities reported. One injury reported. On Tuesday, a stranded female cancer patient in need of medication and treatment was transported from her Cimarron County home to a hospital in Clayton, N.M.
SSA State of Emergency, as declared by Gov. Brad Henry, continues for Beaver, Cimarron and Texas counties. The declaration provides a formal mechanism for local governments within Beaver, Cimarron and Texas counties to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state¿s disaster public assistance program.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry continued to deliver hay to stranded livestock on Cimarron County ranches today. Yesterday, an Oklahoma National Guard Chinook helicopter dropped hay to about 800 cattle, horses, mules and donkeys. Today, agriculture officials hope to deliver hay to another 2,400 livestock. Weather conditions, including fog, delayed today¿s flights until mid-morning. Additionally, today state and county officials began ground transport of hay to some areas. Tomorrow, a second Oklahoma National Guard Chinook is expected to join the effort. Agriculture officials now estimate the snow storm left more than 8,500 head of cattle and other livestock stranded and in need of feed in Cimarron County. The Chinook can hold three round bales of hay per flight. The helicopter and 7 crew members are out of Lexington. Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Terry Peach is overseeing the operation from the Boise City Command Post. Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Michael Herrin is serving as incident commander for the hay drop effort. Oklahoma National Guard personnel have completed 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 completed welfare checks on about 75 families. In about a dozen cases, residents were found in need of medication and/or medical attention. However, in most cases, the residents were in good condition, simply in need of access to the highway so they could travel to town and get supplies. The welfare checks were ordered 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. The Guard personnel have returned to the armory in Enid.
Today, joint preliminary damage assessment teams began to survey damage in the affected Panhandle areas of Texas and Cimarron counties. The teams include county and city officials as well as representatives of OEM, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Panhandle Telephone Cooperative and the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC). The teams will document any damage to public facilities, roads and bridges as well as damage to the electric and phone systems caused by the Dec. 29 snow storm as well as the Dec. 19 ice storm. The teams will continue assessments tomorrow.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has staff at the Boise City Command Post to assist with any health-related needs. The Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps has provided an emergency department physician and nurse to assist at Cimarron Memorial Hospital in Boise City. OSDH has also coordinated pharmaceutical deliveries to the hospital.
Yesterday, an Oklahoma National Guard Chinook helicopter and crew of four returned to Oklahoma after completing 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.
OAEC reports about 1,800 Tri-County Electric Cooperative customers remain without power. Power has been returned in all municipalities throughout Cimarron and Texas counties. Scattered outages continue in rural areas predominately in central and western Texas County and eastern Cimarron County. The majority of customers will see power returned by next Wednesday or Thursday, OAEC reports. Significant snow drifts on some county roads continue to limit access to 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 roads in Cimarron County are wet but not freezing. Cimarron County is also experiencing light snow. Roads in Texas and Beaver counties are also clear. 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.
The forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of snow tonight, with north winds 10 to 25 mph and wind chills of 9 to -1 degrees. Saturday¿s forecast calls for mostly sunny conditions with highs in the upper 30s. Southwest winds at 10 to 15 mph will deliver wind chill readings near zero degrees in the morning. By nightfall Saturday, lows will be around 17 degrees. Southwest winds of 10 to15 mph will shift after midnight and come out of the northwest at 5 to 10 mph.
Shelters and Mass Feeding
A shelter continues to operate at the Fairgrounds Building in Boise City.
Next situation update: As necessary.