Widespread Power Outages After Severe Storm

PORTLAND, Ore. – A strong late winter storm has caused power outages for about 50,000 Pacific Power customers in the Northwest, stretching from the northern Willamette Valley to Crescent City, Calif.

Crews are at work assessing and repairing damage in more than a dozen communities. At peak, after the storm as many as 74,000 customers were without power due to more than 2,000 individual outages. By 7 p.m., local repair crews, augmented by contract crews had cut that total by a third so that now about 50,000 customers, derived from 1,600 separate outages, remain without power.

“We are making good progress and appreciate the patience and safety consciousness we are seeing from customers” said Bill Eaquinto, vice president, operations. “At this time, customers who lack power need to prepare for their electricity to be out for up to 24 hours from the time of this news release. This is due to the severity and widespread nature of the damage.”

Transmission, distribution and substation equipment have been impacted and/or damaged and must be repaired in many areas. It is a time-consuming and exacting task to check all of this equipment for safety before restoration can be complete.

To take on the widespread and extensive work necessary to safely restore customers’ electricity, Pacific Power has issued and “all hands” call and is moving multiple crews into southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley from northern California, Pendleton, Hood River, Bend and Portland. Pacific Power has also enlisted contract crews from throughout Oregon and Washington to tackle the task at hand, with safety of crews and customers as a top priority. All types of field personnel are taking on assignments to assist in the effort.

As of 7 p.m., these customer outages persist in the following communities:

Albany, 1,215
Coos County, 5,000
Corvallis, 38
Cottage Grove, 304
Dallas, 1,020
Grants Pass, 11,829
Junction City, 275
Lebanon, 14,084
Medford area, 18, 261
Myrtle Point/Powers, 2,100
Roseburg, 5,541

Work will continue through the night, though for safety reasons, progress is slowed by the darkness. Pacific Power’s priority is to safely restore all customers at the earliest possible time. Again, though, because of the extensive, widespread and isolated damage, customers are urged to expect and prepare for as much as a 24 hour outage.

Be Safe: These things are true anytime, but are especially important when storms damage power lines. Stay away from all downed power lines. Even if lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous.

Be smart: To ease the inconvenience of power outages and assist crews in restoring power, Pacific Power suggests the following tips and safety precautions:
* Call and report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088.
* Candles should never be left unattended or used for extended periods. Use a flashlight or other battery-powered lighting source.
* Use a fireplace or wood stove to keep warm. Pay careful attention to fire hazards.
* Never use kerosene or propane heaters inside without proper ventilation. They create dangerous fumes. Also, don’t use charcoal in your house or garage.
* Never use a barbecue grill indoors. Cook over sterno cans.
* Don’t drive over downed power lines.
* Turn on your porch light switch. After crews complete repairs, they patrol the area to confirm lights are on.
* As much as possible, do not open refrigerators and freezers-they will keep food and perishables inside cold for some time if not opened.
* Preserve body heat by wearing multiple layers of clothing. Add a hat and blanket to stay warm. Blankets and towels around windows and doors help keep the heat in.
* Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.
* Protect your pipes during freezing weather by wrapping them with insulation. Also, leave faucets dripping so water won’t freeze and crack the pipes.
* Generators should be outside or in a well-ventilated unoccupied space
* Make sure generators are properly wired for your home or business, and don’t connect a generator directly to your home’s main fuse box or circuit panel. This can create a dangerous backfeed hazard for line crews.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 13th, 2011 and is filed under Local News, Press Releases, State News, Weather Warnings.