The severe storm that blew through OPPD’s service area early on July 10 knocked out power to more than 188,000 customers, a record number of outages from one storm.
OPPD worked quickly to mobilize all of its crews, plus crews from companies it contracts with and mutual aid partners from other parts of Nebraska and beyond. Hundreds of crew members and personnel have been working around the clock since Saturday to restore power to all of OPPD’s customers.
And OPPD has also received valuable support from the Omaha area community.
Hundreds of mutual aid crew members headed to Omaha on Saturday. Dennis Snook, emergency preparedness business continuity manager at OPPD, said the utility’s logistics team was exhausting local housing resources as it worked to find rooms for visiting crews.
“There were large events across Omaha that made finding hotel rooms extremely difficult,” he said.
OPPD had never used dorm rooms on college campuses to house visiting crews in the past, but he said other utilities across the country have.
So Snook, who is also an adjunct professor at UNO in the Emergency Management Program, reached out to Diane Mack, the university’s Director of Emergency Management. Soon, OPPD’s logistics team was working closely with Adam Wick, manager of the Scott Residence Hall at UNO, to coordinate arrivals.
“Our initial projections were for around 100 individual crew members to arrive at UNO,” Snook said. “We ended up with more than 175 individuals, and Adam and his team were able to identify additional housing options at the university.”
Wick said he and his team worked until after 3 a.m. preparing rooms and checking in crew members.
“At UNO we understand how important it is to be a part of this community, and one of the primary jobs for us in on-campus housing is to help people,” Wick said. “We were glad to be able to help.
UNO Chancellor Joanne Li said the university was positioned well, in terms of both location and resources, to support OPPD’s efforts.
“UNO’s campus was right in the center of the storm’s impact, and we wanted the university to be right in the center of the community’s response,” Li said. “We saw both a need and an opportunity to serve: Where better to house power crews and help them recharge than in campus housing located by some of the neighborhoods hit hardest by Saturday’s storms.”
And that support was much appreciated.
“Without the relationship with UNO, it would have been impossible to house all of the external crews OPPD has been bringing into the community,” said Richard Swan, OPPD’s Manager of Emergency Operations.
OPPD has also received great support from Hy-Vee. The local grocery store chain provided meals, drinks and ice for the crews.
And members of the community have helped as well. Customers have generously providing drinks and snacks, along with thank you notes, for the crews.
“I am truly grateful for and appreciate the community support and collaboration,” Snook said.
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