As northeastern Oklahoma braces for possible severe winter weather, utilities serving the region are at work preparing for potential outages.
MIAMI— As northeastern Oklahoma braces for possible severe winter weather, utilities serving the region are at work preparing for potential outages and communicating important safety advice to their customers.
The City of Miami Utilities Department, which provides electric power with 110 miles of primary distribution lines and three substations, has been working in tandem with the Streets Department to prepare for extreme weather conditions.
Miami Police Chief and Emergency Management Director Thomas Anderson said crews and equipment are ready.
"We have trucks ready to go. Streets has sand and salt set up, and we are keeping the public informed," said Anderson.
Miami's street crews have been working through the week to ready spreaders to keep driving conditions safe while utility crews have prepped equipment and service vehicles for immediate response, with personnel on call in case of outages.
Anderson also confirmed updates could be found on the Miami Emergency Management Department's Facebook page, but stressed that citizens needing to contact the Utilities Department use the main contact number and not tie up 911 with outage and downed line reports as these are non-emergencies.
Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (REC), which serves over 28,000 members in Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Rogers Counties, issued a release this week warning of pending severe weather and advising service members to prepare for safely dealing with possible outages.
Outlining its plan for response, REC said its service crews have been mobilized to begin outage restoration processes immediately and have a disaster recovery plan in place. If outages occur, REC said its crews would first assess damages to the backbone of the system, including transmission lines and structures, substations and primary feeder lines. Repairs to single-phase lines and individual services will follow.
Referencing regional forecast models calling for widespread ice and snow accumulations, REC advised precipitation may be accompanied by sub-freezing temperatures in some areas, which could be hazardous for members who lose power.
“We want our members to prepare for interruptions of their electric service,” said cooperative General Manager Anthony Due. “Without an alternative power supply, remaining in the home during sub-freezing temperatures can be dangerous. We want to stress the importance of having somewhere safe and warm to stay in case power is lost.”
The cooperative also reminded members to use portable generators safely in the event of outages by placing them outside where deadly carbon monoxide fumes can be safely vented.
Empire District Electric, a subsidiary of Liberty Utilities serving approximately 218,000 customers in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, issued its own release Wednesday providing a brief overview of how it is preparing and urging its customers to also have an emergency plan in place for extreme weather conditions.
"Personnel are assessing trucks and equipment, fuel and material supplies, and communication channels and technology to ensure all systems are ready to respond if outages occur," the utility said in its release. "Empire urges customers to also be prepared before extreme weather conditions arrive. Outages can occur at any time. Have an emergency plan in place, and additional supplies on hand."
All three utilities also stressed the importance of reporting and avoiding downed power lines. Power lines should always be treated as if they are energized. Contact with a live line even indirectly could cause catastrophic injury or death.
To report outages and downed lines and for service updates, customers should contact their utility through the following channels:
City of Miami:
Call 1-918-542-6685 to report an outage or downed power lines.
Customers can also connect to city Facebook pages for the latest updates and information at www.facebook.com/miamiokla or www.facebook.com/City-of-Miami-Emergency-Management-262755517102720.
Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative:
Call 1-800-256-6405 to report an outage or downed power lines.
Should outages occur, service restoration progress can be tracked online at www.neelectric.com or at www.facebook.com/neokrec.
Empire District Electric:
Call 1-800-206-2300 to report an outage or downed power lines.
Outages may also be reported by logging into your MyAccount on the Empire website www.empiredistrict.com.
Dorothy Ballard is the managing editor for the Miami News-Record. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard