Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 31, 2006 -- Situation Update 2
EFFECTS OF WINTER STORM CONTINUE IN PANHANDLE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) received the following reports related to the winter storm that moved through the Panhandle on Friday and Saturday. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff remains in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
A strong storm system moved slowly across southern New Mexico late Thursday into Friday. This produced widespread snowfall across parts of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Especially hard hit were Cimarron and Texas counties where upwards of 12 inches of snow fell in some areas. Rain, ice and winds in excess of 55 mph in some areas, also accompanied the weather system. The remainder of Oklahoma received rainfall of 1-2 inches in most areas and a few areas received up to 4 inches.
None reported at this time.
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports about 5,000 Tri-County Electric Cooperative customers remain without power, including all of Boise City and Keyes. They report many poles and arms as well as lines remain down and must be repaired before they can get substations running. They are experiencing high winds and that coupled with electric lines popping up as the ice thaws is delaying power restoration. Restoration crews are working in difficult conditions including wind chills of 6 degrees. Under OAEC's mutual aid program, six restoration crews (about 40 personnel) continue to assist Tri-County Electric. The crews are from the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa, Caddo, Cimarron, Northfork, Northwestern, and Oklahoma.
Additionally, OAEC has responded to calls for restoration crews from southwest Kansas, where two electric coops report more than 2,000 poles on the ground and more than 25,000 customers without power. Restoration crews (38 personnel) from the following Oklahoma coops are en route to assist in Kansas: Kay, Central Rural, Indian, Northeast and Rural Electric.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports SH-56 from Boise City to Elkhart, US-287 from Boise City south toward Stratford, TX and US-64 from Boise City toward Guymon are all open. Oklahoma crews are still working on US-287 north toward Colorado (US-287 is still closed in Colorado) and on US-56 from Boise City west toward Clayton, NM (US-56 is still closed in New Mexico). Several vehicles were reported stranded along US-56 at the New Mexico line after having driven around barricades.
Since Friday, ODOT has rotated several crews around the clock as they worked to clear snow-packed Cimarron County roads. Crews clear the entire roadway, beginning with the driving lane, and then the shoulders. Snow is pushed aside and salt is spread. Last night, crews worked to keep US-64 open as a lifeline. This morning, six additional road graders were sent to the storm-struck area, making a total of eight graders and five trucks. Personnel are being rotated in shifts with additional assistance coming from ODOT staff from Harper, Ellis, Woodward, Major, Woods and Alfalfa counties.
ODOT officials say they are making headway but the situation won't improve fully until neighboring states are able to clear their roads.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reports they have worked five accidents in the Panhandle in the last 24 hours. While roads south and east of Boise City are open, they continue to discourage travel. For Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385. For road conditions in other affected states, call: Colorado 303-639-1111; Kansas 800-585-7623; New Mexico 800-432-4269; and Texas 800-452-9292.
ODOT is transporting three 80kw generators from Enid to Boise City. The generators are needed to power the Boise City water treatment plant and other public facilities. Additionally, ODOT is transporting 200 gallons of diesel fuel to Boise City to keep their equipment running since power outages are preventing access to fuel at some Panhandle locations.
OEM secured 4 port-a-potties and they have now arrived in Boise City. The city's sanitation system is also down due to the power outage.
This morning OHP led a convoy of vehicles loaded with food, water, blankets and other supplies to Boise City.
Two OEM area coordinators were deployed to the Panhandle. One will assist officials in Guymon; the other in Boise City.
Shelters and Mass Feeding
Shelters remain open in the following Cimarron and Texas county locations:
In Guymon at the Texas County Activity Center
In Boise City at the First Methodist Church and the Church of Christ
In Tyrone at the Baptist Church
In Hooker at the Texas County Shop
The Southern Baptist Men's Disaster Unit out of Hooker continues to prepare meals at the Texas County Activity Center in Guymon and send still more meals to other shelters in Texas and Cimarron counties. Yesterday they served more than 900 meals to residents and stranded travelers at the shelters. The Oklahoma County Chapter of the American Red Cross continues to coordinate the Red Cross response in Texas and Cimarron counties to ensure all displaced residents and travelers have a hot meal and warm place to sleep.
Texas County Emergency Management reports last night about 150 were fed and 40 people slept at the Texas County Activity Center in Guymon. We provided meals for Texas and Cimarron counties and have already fed about 700 people today. Staging area for Texas and Cimarron counties is the Texas County Activity Center in Guymon. We have had a lot of volunteers from our county and we are so appreciative of them!
Cimarron Sheriffs Department reports between 150 and 200 spent last night at the shelters in Boise City.
Next situation update: As necessary.