McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 14, 2007

Ice storm


By TREVOR DUNBAR

CITY EDITOR

It’s getting worse.

Pittsburg County has turned into a winter wasteland after being slammed by an ice storm that started Friday and continued into Saturday evening.

About 12,500 Pittsburg county customers are without electricity, Lois Lupardus, assistant director of county emergency management, said this morning. The Kiowa and Crowder areas, as well as Rural Water Districts 9 and 14 are without water.

“We’re working on getting generators up for the people without water,” Lupardus said. “McAlester still has water because they already have a generator. I’m working with the state emergency management office to get some more generators.”

Lupardus has requested four generators, enough to cover the four areas without water. This morning she was in the process of requesting a fifth.

“I’m just waiting to see what I’ll get,” she said. “Everyone’s working hard and working real well together. We’re just having to take one thing at a time. Everything’s more controlled by the weather more than anything I can do right now.”

For those without power, water or both, Lupardus said public shelters are set up at the First Baptist Church in McAlester and the Krebs Volunteer Fire Department.

Michelann Ooten, public information officer for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said Pittsburg County is among the hardest hit areas in the state. But there is no word on help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“There isn’t any FEMA assistance yet because it’s not the time. We’re still in response mode,” Ooten said. “But we will see what resources might be available at the federal level.”

However, she said the state emergency management office will do all it can to help Pittsburg County.

“We’re in the process of moving generators that way. One should already be there,” she said. “We’re also moving generators to other communities hit hard by the storm.”

Ooten said at this point it is impossible to determine when everything will be back to normal.

“We’ve been in contact with the electric companies and they’ve brought in additional crews who are working long, hard hours,” she said.

“They’re also hiring different contractors locally, not only to repair lines but to also work with the trees. There is three-quarters of an inch to an inch and a quarter of ice on the trees and lines. It’s a very difficult situation in which to work.”

Contact Trevor Dunbar at tdunbar@mcalesternews.com.