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Utility providers improve power restoration

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Posted at 10:17 AM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 19:42:57-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The round-the-clock operations to restore electrical power continue for the third day in Southern Colorado. Colorado Springs Utilities reported approximately 6,000 remaining power outages Friday evening following a peak of nearly 40,000 on Wednesday.

As of 8:30 a.m. Friday, Black Hills Energy had 727 remaining outages which included 96 in Pueblo, 15 in Canon City, and 616 in Rocky Ford. During the peak of the storm Wednesday, roughly 27,000 outages were reported.

San Isabel Electric Association is hoping to have power restored to all of their affected areas by Friday night. As of Thursday, around 300 outages remained.

Communications manager Paris Daugherty said in an email that a small number of isolated outages could remain in unpopulated areas where the damage exists between services lines and utility equipment.

Charlie Cassidy, General Manager of Energy Construction, Operations, and Maintenance for Colorado Springs Utilities told reporters Friday afternoon that the work is taking longer than expected. The new estimated date for full power restoration is now Sunday.

Damage estimates prepared by the utility provider found some 50 power poles that need to be repaired or replaced throughout the city. Each pole can take between 6 and 8 hours to repair. That work is taking longer because many of the damaged poles are covered with debris or fallen trees.

"When a crew shows up, it's not just simply replacing a transformer, putting a new wire up, or something like that," Cassidy said. "It's first dealing with things like removing structures from our infrastructure, dealing with trees on lines, dealing with fences and all the other debris that you see in the neighborhoods right now."

An additional five crews of linemen from the Public Service Company of Colorado (Xcel Energy) and the City of Fountain are now assisting the power restorations efforts in Colorado Springs through mutual aid agreements.

"We're actively working looking for other resources to bring into the city as we manage this thing, and we will continue to run 24-hour operations until we have 100 percent restoration in place for all of the citizens in our community," Cassidy added.

Jennie Danfos-Furman lives in the Patty-Jewitt neighborhood. Her power came back on Friday morning.

"It was so exciting," she said. "You know, you're just so used to having power, and yeah, just figuring out logistics and even cooking."

Furman said she was relieved to have a gas stove and figured out how to light it without electricity. She said she made the best of the outage by leaning on her friends.

"When I did feel like maybe a little lonely or whatever, I would just call people and say can I just go with you and pick up some food or whatever."

The linemen crews have prioritized pole replacement where the greatest number of customers can be helped in a single fix. Cassidy said that about 500 of the outages are individual,
meaning the pace of restoration work is going to slow down during the weekend.

"So, that's 500 potential issues like this that we're going to have to wade through to get those individual customers restored at the end of the day," he said.

There have been two electrical contacts reported. However, no injuries have occurred.

The City of Colorado Springs will open an emergency shelter at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Sunnyside Christian Church, 2025 N. Murray Boulevard, Colorado Springs, CO 80915.

The Westside Community Center will also remain open until 8:00 p.m. Friday and will again from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday to offer people a place to go to get out of a cold house for a few hours and to charge their cell phones.

They are located at 1628 W. Bijou Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

What To Do In A Prolonged Power Outage

While inconvenient, most power outages don’t leave you in the dark for all too long. But when a storm hits, and the power goes out for hours, or even days, the prolonged outage can cause some major challenges and even safety concerns.

Here are six strategies to help you prepare for, and safely endure, a prolonged power outage.

While inconvenient, most power outages don’t leave you in the dark for all too long. But when a storm hits, and the power goes out for hours, or even days, the prolonged outage can cause some major challenges and even safety concerns.

Here are six expert-approved strategies to help you prepare for, and safely endure, a prolonged power outage.

To be prepared, consider buying a portable battery charging bank for your phone.

Keep Your Fridge And Freezer Closed

Your fridge can keep your food safe for up to four hours during a power outage, and your freezer can keep it for up to 48 hours, according to FoodSafety.gov. During the outage, keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut so that cold air doesn’t escape.

If the outage is longer than four hours, you’ll need to toss perishable foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers. Even after the four-hour window, food can spend another two hours above 40 degrees Fahrenheit before it becomes unsafe to cook, according to Consumer Reports. (Here’s a chart to help you discern which foods need to be tossed and which can be kept after an outage).

The Red Cross recommends keeping a digital quick-response thermometer to check the temperatures of food to determine whether they stayed cool enough during the outage. Also, coolers (even an inexpensive styrofoam one) filled with ice can help keep your food cold during prolonged blackouts.

Know How To Store Your Medication

Prior to a natural disaster, it’s important to talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and for refrigerated medicines, advises the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Know how long your medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life. Water, heat and humidity are all factors that can alter your medication’s effectiveness, health officials say.

If You Have A Generator, Be Sure To Use It Safely

Running a generator improperly can be deadly, health and safety experts warn. These portable machines can emit dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which is known as an “invisible killer” because it’s colorless, odorless and tasteless. In fact, more than 150 people in the United States die every year from accidental non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

You should never operate a portable generator inside your home or garage, cautions Consumer Reports. Rather, operate as far from the house as possible — at least 20 feet, advises FEMA. Direct the exhaust away from doors or windows.

If you have a generator, FEMA recommends installing carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside bedrooms. That way, you’ll get an early warning if carbon monoxide starts to accumulate.

Power Off Your Appliances

When power returns, it could have momentary surges or spikes that could potentially cause electrical damage. For this reason, it’s a good idea to go through your home and turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment and electronics, recommends FEMA. The Red Cross does recommend leaving one lamp turned on so that you’re aware when power is restored.

Another option, if you’re comfortable, is shutting off your main circuit breaker. Also, safety experts at the Red Cross recommend using a flashlight as a source of light instead of candles, which could tip and cause a fire.

Have An Evacuation Plan

Emergency planners recommend having a household evacuation plan that includes your pets. The Red Cross has templates you can use to create these types of plans, which includes coming up with meeting spots should family members become separated, plus assembling an emergency preparedness kit should there be a prolonged outage.

Consumer Reports also recommends checking in on your neighbors if you can do so. Elderly neighbors may have trouble in extreme temperatures or navigating their home without lights.

Having a plan in place and understanding safety protocols for power outages can help reduce the stress should your area lose power for a prolonged period of time.