Frozen in Tulsa

Posted by johnhouk on Dec 12, 2007
Okay. I know am more politics, geopolitics and anti-jihad in my posting; however I live in the Tulsa Metro area. Two-thirds of the people are without power due to an ice storm.

Okies are not used to cold temperatures of the nature of freezing and just below freezing. Add this to the apparent majority of households/Apartments seemed to all electric without gas heat.

Our family embarked to a motel that had power. That motel told us we were the last reservation and then they would be full.

My honey is a travelling sales lady so me and the grandkid pulled up stakes and travelling with her the next day in Arkansas. It is not freezing in Arkansas.

Just as we were about to leave the motel in the Tulsa Metro area, that motel lost power.

Driving in the area around 8:00 AM it was a view like the movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The sky was
grey and the trees were crushed with ice. Limbs were in the streets, on cars and on houses. Then we disembarked for Arkansas.

So here I sit in an Arkansas motel wondering when the power is coming back on in the Tulsa Metro area.


Power out in much of Tulsa

By BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Tulsa World
December 11, 2007

Storm linked to 14 state deaths, 2 here

More than two-thirds of the Tulsa metro area was without electricity Monday as heavy ice caused trees to snap and fall, taking power lines with them.

At least 14 deaths statewide were attributed to the weather, including two in Tulsa.

The first was in a morning traffic accident on 46th Street North in which a man drove his truck into a low-hanging electrical wire that pulled the utility pole down, crushing him.

The second Tulsa fatality was of a woman who died of smoke inhalation in one of the more than 75 reported structural fires.

Among those was a house that was destroyed by fire on Monday night, firefighters said.

About 5:15 p.m., fire crews were called to the 7600 block of East 58th Place after an electrical short on the outside of the house caused a fire to spread into attic of the 2,220-square-foot brick home, said District Chief Pat Remmert.

The fire, which likely started because of a short circuit caused by the ice and falling limbs, engulfed the house, although all of the occupants were able to escape unharmed, Remmert said.
The Fire Department received 1,800 calls between 8 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday -- about 10 times more than normally received, officials said.

The American Red Cross was overwhelmed by the huge demand for services in the Tulsa area and was unable to assist the family in Monday night's fire, Remmert said.

Lt. Gov. Jari Askins signed a state of emergency declaration for Oklahoma on Monday because of the storm.

Askins has been acting governor since last week, when Gov. Brad Henry flew to Honolulu for the dedication of the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

Paul Sund, spokesman for Henry, said the governor was trying to fly back to the state as soon as possible.

"The goal is to return to Oklahoma by Tuesday. The problem is getting a flight and making sure you can land in Oklahoma City," Sund said.

AEP-PSO was reporting more than 213,000 homes and businesses without power Monday night out of roughly 300,000 in the Tulsa metropolitan area.

"It's an absolute mess out there," said Preston Kissman, American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma vice president of distribution.

Tulsa International Airport had power outages and hospitals were using generators. Residents of a Collinsville nursing home were evacuated after the facility lost power.

It could take until mid-next week -- seven to 10 days -- to restore electricity to everyone, with individual homes being last on the priority list, Kissman said.

"We will be able to make a huge dent in that number later today and Tuesday," he said. "It will get better each day after that, but the reality of it is, it's going to take a long time to recover."

Oklahoma Gas & Electric, based in Oklahoma City, reported 237,306 customers were without power as of Monday, according to the company's Web site.

Cox Communications had about 5,000 phone customers in the Tulsa area without service and 24,000 in the Oklahoma City area.

Tulsa residents were being asked to conserve water Monday afternoon because Mohawk Water Treatment Plant was without power. Output was increased at the A.B. Jewell Water Treatment Plant.

The Mohawk plant was on AEP-PSO's priority list and expected to have electricity restored later in the day.

Kissman said this is the worst ice storm to hit Tulsa since the late 1980s.

"It's like what McAlester experienced last January," he said.

Hundreds of linemen were working to restore power Monday. A request has been made for 1,500 more.

"This has hit Oklahoma City all the way up to Missouri, so there's a heavy demand for resources," Kissman said.

"The good news is that it's supposed to warm up, but we're not out of the woods yet."

Emergency shelters were opened in several locations.

Mayor Kathy Taylor said few people Monday were taking advantage of Tulsa's shelters.

"We want residents to know that if they're in the dark and have no heat, they have a place to go," she said, noting that food will be provided.

About 40 people were stranded at the Tulsa Greyhound Bus Station and some of them made their way to the shelters.

Tulsa area schools were closed Monday and many have canceled classes Tuesday.

Many nonessential government workers were sent home for the day.

Tulsa's Emergency Operations Center was activated at 5:30 a.m. Monday.

The center has asked state emergency management officials for assistance for both the city and the county by preparing emergency declarations.

Residents were urged not to try to move downed tree limbs or power lines themselves.

"Right now is not the best time for you to be addressing the trees in your backyard," Capt. Larry Bowles said.

"You should stay in your homes because the trees are still breaking and someone could get hurt."

Bowles also said that all downed lines should be considered live.

"Stay away from them," he said.

Fire officials also warned residents of carbon monoxide poisoning through the use of alternative heating sources.

"Go to a shelter if you need a warm place," Bowles said. "Don't risk harm or death for you or your family."

Firefighters were busy Monday handling structure fires related to electrical problems. Many homes also have sustained roof damage from falling trees.

EMSA spokeswoman Tina Wells said ambulances responded to 168 medical emergencies between midnight and 2 p.m.

"We're seeing a lot of people with breathing conditions and heart conditions who are experiencing trouble in this cold air and who are out exerting themselves," she said.

Tulsa's street crews spent more time clearing tree debris from the roadway Monday than spreading salt.

"Our top priority is to keep the streets passable," said Dan Crossland, Public Works Department deputy director of public facilities.

"We've got a lot of arterials that are partially if not completely blocked."

Broken tree limbs are simply being pushed to the side of the road, Crossland said.

"Once we start to see some melting, we can go back and start picking them up, but right now we're far too busy for that," he said.

Crews began putting salt on the city streets early Sunday morning and have been working 12-hour shifts.

"The streets really haven't been that bad because we've kept on top of them," Crossland said. "You just have to watch yourself on the bridges and the highway overpasses."

Tulsa County road crews began emergency weather operations late Sunday afternoon.

County Engineer Ray Jordan said county crews are running two, 10-hour shifts a day.

"We're clearing trees from roads -- that's the big issue," he said.

The Tulsa Police Department on Monday was operating at twice the normal strength, with more than 120 uniformed officers on the streets.

The midnight uniformed shift was held over to work through the daytime hours and being assisted by detectives and academy recruits.

"About two-thirds of them are devoted to blocking streets where the power lines and trees are down," Police Chief Ron Palmer said.

Many intersections are without working lights and officials have not been able to place four-way stop signs everywhere, he said.

The Police Department remains on Operation Slick Streets, meaning that officers will not respond to noninjury traffic accidents.

Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Gary Cox encouraged people without power to keep their refrigerators closed.

Frozen foods should last about 48 hours. If there's any question as to whether food has spoiled, it should be thrown away, he said.

Frozen in Tulsa
John R. Houk
December 11, 2007


Power out in much of Tulsa

World staff writers Ginnie Graham, Curtis Killman, Randy Krehbiel, Kevin Canfield and Jason Womack contributed to this story.

Copyright 2007 , World Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

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