More than 7 inches of wet, heavy snow created havoc for Kansas City Power and Light the weekend of Jan. 12. More than 170,000 metro customers were reported without service, and crews were called in from several states. Photo courtesy of KCPL
Heavy snow left Edgerton City Hall in the dark Jan. 14 – literally.
Power was finally restored Monday afternoon about 3 p.m.
“Power is out at city hall,” Don Roberts, mayor, had said. An alert was sent to area residents via the Johnson County notification network over the weekend.
Roberts said early Monday the city was trying to be put on a priority list, but at that time he had no idea when service would be restored.
“We are trying to get moved to a priority list,” Roberts had said. Edgerton is serviced by Kansas City Power and Light, which had over 170,000 customers out over the weekend.
Although city hall had no phones, no lights, no internet, Roberts said he was only aware of about five Edgerton residential customers without power.
The outage was apparently caused by a downed power line across the railroad tracks, a blown transformer and fuses popped along Main St. During city hall’s closure, residents could call city hall, and leave a message.
Late Monday, a notification was sent out saying “KCP&L has removed the downed wire from the roadway at Nelson St. and the BNSF Railroad crossing, as well as fixed the power outage affecting city offices. Nelson St. is open to traffic and city offices will be open for business tomorrow at 8 a.m. Jan. 15.”
Despite heavy snow blanketing Johnson County, most Gardner residents retained service.
“It appears we had one major outage that impacted 60 customers who were without power for one hour and 40 minutes,” said Daneeka Marshall-Oquendo, public information officer. “We had a two-man crew working both Saturday and Sunday off and on throughout the day.”
Over the weekend, Gardner’s street crews worked 247 man-hours, 191 of those were overtime. Crews spread 95 tons of salt, Marshall-Oquendo said.
Gardner Police worked four accidents during the storm, and some related calls which were primarily “slide-offs” on I-35 and on US 56 Highway between Moonlight and Cedar Niles. “We don’t even consider those accidents normally because they usually have just slid off the road and need to be winched back onto the road,” said Sgt. Steve Benz, GPD.
“Most of the people in this community are savvy when it comes to driving/not driving in the heavy snows,” Benz said. “ I am sure they will be equally savvy this coming weekend, should another heavy snow storm hit us. We are ready here at Gardner PD.”
Fire District #1 had “staffed up” and were prepared for the storm, said Dennis Meyers, assistant fire chief. “We were busy, but not over the top busy,” Meyers said.
Although there weren’t a huge number of outage calls, crews did respond to several calls regarding power lines arcing in trees and such, but no structure fires, Meyers said. There were a few minor accidents, primarily on I-35, and one was a minor extrication, but no major injuries.
However, the storm did bring about one interesting call, Meyers said. Crews responded to a woman in labor and had to use a truck equipped with snow plows to assist two ambulances gain access to the home — plowing the street and driveway.
“Late Friday night – or very early Saturday morning – we had a call for a woman who had a baby,” he said. The district had brought in extra staff and had a utility truck with snow plows used to clear fire station drives. But when the call came about the impending birth, crews used it to help plow the street and driveway to the home.
“There were two ambulances,” Meyers said. “One for the mother and one for the baby.” The baby was born before crews got there.
“It was a self delivery,” he said. Both mother and baby were fine.
“Just think,” Meyers said,
“All his life that baby can remember he was born during the storm.”
Kansas City Power and Light
According to a press release from Kansas City Power and Light issued Jan. 13, more than 1,000 utility workers are braving wet, heavy snow to restore power to about 80,000 customers who are currently without power. Sunday, KCP&L crews were joined by crews from Iowa and other areas of Kansas and Missouri to repair damage that initially left more than 110,000 KCP&L customers without power. Crews will work around the clock to continue restoring power to customers at least into Jan. 15.
Winter Storm Gia moved slowly through the Kansas City region Jan. 12, blanketing the the with up to 11 inches of wet, heavy snow. KCP&L crews began restoring power as the storm began Saturday morning. The snow clung to tree limbs and power lines, weighing them down, causing significant tree and wire damage and resulting in power outages.
Elderly or handicapped residents with medical needs that require electrical equipment, with no backup should be sure to fill out a medical customer application, which is available on KCPL’s website.
“What is important and relevant right now is it doesn’t necessarily enable us to get the power on right away, but we do make extra effort to communicate with customers who are the program in case they need to make alternative arrangements, they have that information,” said Gina Penzig, KCPL manager, media communications. “We try to reach out to them and keep them updated.”
Penzig noted that a customer noted as needing medical equipment must have information included from a medical professional. Also, a medical “red flag” doesn’t prevent disconnection for nonpayment.
More than 1,000 linemen, tree trimmers, engineers and support staff are working in the field Sunday to restore power with many others coordinating efforts behind the scenes. The field team addressing outages Sunday was double that of Saturday, bolstered by crews arriving from Westar Energy, Kansas; Mid-American, Iowa; and Liberty Utilities-Empire District, Missouri, to help restore power. Utilities have a practice of sharing crews when large storms hit areas to enable them to grow their work force and respond to the urgent need. Line contractors and tree trimming contractors are assisting as well.
While line crews restored power Jan. 13, KCP&L sent teams into other affected neighborhoods to assess and note damage. The information is used to ensure the right crew arrives with the needed materials to make repairs when they are assigned to that neighborhood. It makes the overall storm response more efficient.
About KCP&L and Westar Energy:
Serving approximately 1.5 million customers in Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City Power & Light Company (KCP&L), KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company and Westar Energy are the electric utilities of Evergy, Inc. (NYSE: EVRG). Together we generate nearly half the power we provide to homes and businesses with emission-free sources. We support our local communities where we live and work, and strive to meet the needs of customers through energy savings and innovative solutions.