Archive for Thursday, February 7, 2002

Frozen

Winter storm causes power outages, school closings and danger

February 7, 2002

A series of freezing rainshowers last week downed 40 Eudora electrical service wires while ice slowed traffic on slushy, slippery roads.

Eudora City Superintendent Bill Harlow said the ice proved too much for many trees.

"The ice on the trees took the power lines down," he said.

The city finished restoring electricity to homes and businesses Monday, he said.

Gov. Bill Graves declared a State of Disaster Emergency for Douglas County and 21 other Kansas counties. According to the Adjutant General's Department, which oversees Kansas Emergency Management, 400,000 Kansans were without electrical power, but by early morning Feb. 1 about 242,000 had power again.

Many of the Eudora Police Department's calls last week came from people whose homes were without electricity or had fallen tree limbs nearby, said Police Chief Bill Long.

The city is having High Plains Tree Service pick up tree branches as long as the debris is left near the driveway by the curb.

Getting the roads cleared and safe proved to be an around-the-clock job, as city crews sanded and salted in 12 hour shifts beginning late Tuesday and finishing up Friday.

"The guys worked a lot of hours," Harlow said.

Mayor Ron Conner said the extra money needed for clean-up comes from a special fund.

"That's one reason you set up a contingency fund: You never know when something's going to happen," he said.

On Monday, the city was waiting to hear whether Douglas County's request for emergency assistance would come through, Conner said. The city would have to document the amount of work done to get reimbursement, he said.

"It will be a drawn-out process," he said.

Ice-related traffic accidents and medical calls were minimal during the storm's worst days, Long said. One incident involved a large truck sliding on the ice into a pick-up truck at the Eudora Feed and Grain parking lot, although there were no injuries.

"If you have people drive reasonably, it's not too bad," Long said.

Harlow said the city also had to deal with a water main break in the 1100 block of Church Street, but he said the incident happened because of ground separation and was unrelated to the ice.

No part of Eudora seemed to get hit worse than any other, Harlow said.

"We got limbs throughout, and we got ice throughout," he said. "We were just on the edge of it. We're tickled to death."

The worst part of the storm seemed to hit south near Baldwin City and Garnett, he said.

The ice and electrical complications closed the Eudora School district's four attendance centers Jan. 30, 31 and Feb. 1.

The National Weather Service's Topeka Bureau, whose coverage area includes Eudora and Douglas County, recorded 1.35 inches of water precipitation and 2.4 inches of snowfall for the area between Jan. 29 and 31.

According to the National Weather Service, the short-range outlook predicts chances for snow Thursday night and daytime Friday.

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