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Thursday, January 29 2009

Evansville and the Tri-State are digging out of a massive ice and snow storm. Unfortunately the ice has caused many trees and branches to fall and tear down the electric grid for the entire area. We have been without electricity for nearly 2 days and we feel for those who still do not have their electricity back. The clean up of tree debris will only be possible once the ice and snow has melted. We will try to keep up dates coming as long as we have electricity.



Vectren outages down to 56,000


Vectren reports the number of power outages remain at 56,000.


At its peak Wednesday afternoon, there were more than 70,000 power outages - believed to be the most in the company history.


The restoration effort will get a further boost today as additional crews from neighboring utilities arrive in town to aid with the process. About 400 are expected in addition to about 200 Vectren employees and contractors.


"We're hoping to make some significant progress today," Vectren spokeswoman Chase Kelley said this morning, cautioning that full restoration isn't likely before next week.




With thousands of Tri-State residents facing the prospect of days without electrical service and heat as nighttime temperatures drop into the low teens, officials are urging neighbors to look out for each other.


The winter storm that began Tuesday and packed successive rounds of ice, sleet and snow finally cleared out of the region Wednesday, but it left behind problems that will confront area residents for days.


Ice and snow create problems for the Tri-State.


The National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., predicts temperatures will not rise above freezing until Saturday, when the daytime high will be 36 degrees. The mercury is to climb above 40 on Sunday, but nighttime temperatures will continue to fall into the 20s.


The storm knocked out power to more than 70,000 Vectren customers in Southwestern Indiana — more than half of the homes and businesses the utility serves.


"We've got a lot of resources, but on the other hand, we've got a lot of work to do because of the outages," said Vectren Chief Operating Officer and President Carl Chapman, offering an estimate of "well into next week" for the full restoration.


Chapman said up to 200 employees and contractors were working Wednesday to restore power with 400 more workers en route from utilities in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and central Indiana.


Tens of thousands of others in Illinois and Kentucky found themselves in the dark Wednesday after an icy glaze coated everything outdoors, bringing down tree limbs and power lines.


The widespread power problems, believed to be the most outages in Vectren's history, were the exclamation point to two days of wintry weather that by far marked the Tri-State's biggest and messiest storm this season. In all, five inches of snow and 1.25 inches of ice fell in Evansville.


By 1 a.m. Wednesday, ice was coating trees and falling limbs were taking out power lines across the city. Along an unusually dark stretch of Washington Avenue on the Southeast Side, ambulances dodged large tree branches in the road as freezing rain and ice continued to fall. At U.S. 41 and Washington Avenue, trees drooped into the roadway.


Transformers blew frequently, reflecting off the overcast skies like lightning. As more power lines fell and conditions deteriorated, the Evansville Fire Department raced from one scene to the next. Crews made 275 runs — a normal night totals 8 to 10 runs — including five structure fires and several rescues of people trapped by falling branches. No one was believed to have been injured seriously.


By 4 a.m., the precipitation had changed to a snow that covered streets and generally made travel treacherous. Evansville and Vanderburgh County declared emergencies.


A state of emergency in Posey County reflected hazardous road conditions and power outages throughout the area, its Emergency Management Agency announced. Dispatchers estimated power outages affected 80 percent of the population at one point Wednesday morning.


Emergencies called


Dubois, Perry, Spencer and Warrick counties also declared states of emergency, although Warrick Sheriff Marvin Heilman said there were only a handful of minor accidents in his jurisdiction. Like Vanderburgh County, he said power outages were the main concern, including two nursing homes in Newburgh left in the dark. Officials were working Wednesday morning to expedite the restoration of their electricity, Heilman said.


"Fortunately the sun's shining," Heilman said. "It could be a lot worse if you look at it that way."


Across the river in Henderson County, Ky., dispatchers on Wednesday said wires and trees were down all over.


"The streets are very, very icy," Henderson County communications supervisor Nyeda Ditzer said Wednesday morning. "(People) definitely need to stay in. The streets are in very bad condition."


The fact that residents stayed off the roads may be a big reason why few accidents were reported beyond a handful of slide-offs and minor troubles, said Vanderburgh County Sheriff Eric Williams.


"In general, people have done a good job staying off the roads," he said, adding motorists need to continue minimizing driving until the roads are fully cleared.


There wasn't a clear indication on Wednesday when that would be. Vanderburgh County Highway Superintendent Mike Duckworth said his crews and the city crews were focusing on primary routes first.


But that process was hampered by refreezing, stalled cars, and downed trees and wires as well as the different rounds of wintry weather.


Asked when he thought crews could begin turning their attention to secondary roadways and subdivisions, Duckworth said he couldn't provide a time line.


The Indiana National Guard was preparing Wednesday afternoon to help residents by providing transportation from homes to shelters, emergency officials said.


City and county responders and officials offered perspective into the extent of the problems and the solutions ahead during a news conference Wednesday morning at Emergency Management Agency headquarters.


Several in attendance — including Chapman, Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel and Duckworth — acknowledged they were among the thousands without power.


Chief among the problems discussed were the massive outages and the effect on the powerless residents. Vanderburgh County Emergency Management Agency Director Sherman Greer said the forecast points to a deep freeze for the next few days, bad news for people hoping to stick it out without heat.



Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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