Oklahoma prepares for outages that could last until weekend
Some OG&E customers could be without power through next week, CEO Sean Trauschke said Thursday.
In a news conference alongside state and local officials, Trauschke noted the utility company has been working to restore over 500,000 outages since three waves of ice storms battered central and northwestern Oklahoma.
"All of the surrounding areas around Oklahoma City should be back returned to service this evening. Enid and Woodward will be closer toward the weekend," he said. "Oklahoma City, we're finalizing some transmission segments right now; we'll know more tomorrow. But right now, it could be the latter part of next week until the very last customer gets online."
As of Thursday afternoon, OG&E's System Watch website showed more than 260,000 customers without power.
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"This is probably the most severe storm we've ever had on our system," Trauschke said. "Today was the first day, the first clear day we've had that we haven't had a front coming through."
OG&E had an additional 3,000 people on the ground in Oklahoma working to restore power, including some line workers who had just returned from restoring service in hurricane battered areas of the Gulf Coast.
Some areas are harder to service than others, he said, including connections that are farther down the line from the main infrastructure.
"Those last customers that we get, that's going to be in the backyard, behind the house in the alleyway, untangling all the trees," Trauschke said.
If any election sites are without power next week, they will be treated as a critical emergency and prioritized. No sites have reported outages to Oklahoma Emergency Management.
Helping neighbors, and the city
Officials at the news conference, which included Gov. Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, urged Oklahomans to help their neighbors, and the city, in the coming weeks.
"This is what Oklahomans do. We come together from all walks of life, to help out our neighbors in times of need," Stitt said. "I know it's miserable being without power, especially when it's been this cold outside. but I know that we're going to get through this."
"There's a gap in our plan," Holt said. "Getting those branches, those fallen trees, from private property to the curb where we will eventually pick it up is something that private residents have to do."
While many residents have the physical or financial ability to bridge that gap, some don't, he said.
"Please be conscious of the elderly or others who don't have the ability to get those branches to the curb in a format where we can pick them up," Holt said.
Meanwhile, city workers are still clearing streets. They are focusing first on the busiest roads, and then will focus on residential and lower-traffic areas.
If you or anyone you know needs social services, dial 211. That hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.