• Last modified 2111 days ago (Aug. 8, 2013)


Crews work all night to cope with storm

Staff writer

Heavy rain and horrific winds felled trees and limbs Friday night.

City electrical and street crews responded to power failures and obstructed roadways.

Electric superintendent Christian Pedersen said his crew waited until lightning stopped then addressed the storm’s mess working until sunrise Saturday then returning at midday.

“We had a hard time keeping up with all the calls,” Pedersen said. “We had a lot of fusible disconnects blown on primary lines.”

Fusible disconnects protect against fire, he said. They are comparable to a circuit breaker with a larger capacity.

Fallen branches twisted lines, causing power failures in several parts of town, he said.

Vine Street, Jex Addition and South First Street, were among the affected areas.

“I’m a firm believer that the wind carried some branches a good distance in the air before they got hooked and tangled in the lines,” he said. “There was one big flash reported on south hill. When we got there it was sparking like a snake.”

Pedersen recommends patrons to stay inside if they observe a downed power line. Live wires can kill, Pedersen said.

Primary lines carry 7,200 volts, while secondary lines carry 2,400 volts. Pedersen and his crew are trained to practice safety first for themselves and the public.

He was thankful that there were no injuries or deaths. He also was grateful for cooperation from the street crew and the public.

“Everyone was patient, calm and kind,” Pedersen said. “When we get calls like that, it makes our job easier.”

Street crew foreman Jeff Harper also was hard at work Friday night and Saturday morning.

Harper operated a front loader with a three-yard bucket and claw to clear streets of obstructions.

He collected limbs and several trees, including one on south Third Street that blocked the entire road.

The city has an emergency plan that prioritizes the order in which roads are cleared, Harper said.

“We clear all the hospital routes first,” he said.

At one point, Harper was called to assist the electric crew.

“There was a tree down in the alley between Lincoln Street and Roosevelt,” he said. “Pedersen and his crew cut the tree up. I dragged it out.”

Harper worked from 11:30 Friday night until 5 a.m. Saturday, took a break until 7:30 a.m., then worked another 2½ hours.

Electric workers were out from 11:30 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday. They rested until 11 a.m., then worked again until 4.p.m.

“I drank a lot of coffee,” Harper said.

On Monday, the electric crew finished their repairs.

“There were too many calls to remember,” Pedersen said. “When you reach that point you just put your head down and keep on trucking.”

The street crew was out at 7 a.m., collecting piles of storm debris residents placed on curbs.

They started on Elm Street and worked their way east.

A loader and several trucks were used to pick up the majority of debris. Some crewmembers worked on foot collecting smaller debris by hand.

Around 10 a.m., Harper said he had transported four loads of debris to the burn pile. Two other trucks made the same number of trips.

By the afternoon, they were through Tanglewood Addition and had moved onto South Roosevelt Street.

“Everything was fairly routine,” Harper said. “At the end of the day we had 45 loads.”

On Tuesday, the street crew reached Jex Addition and had transported 30 loads before lunch, Harper said.

Last modified Aug. 8, 2013