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Story of a storm restoration

July 15, 2021 | Laura King-Homan | restoration, weather
7102021_Outage Progress Line Graph

The story of the historic July 10, 2021, storm and its outage restoration can be told by looking at the numbers. And the work continues.

At its peak, the storm left more than 188,000 customers without power. The graphic above shows the steep, but steady, restoration efforts thanks to the hard work of OPPD crews and its mutual aid partners.

Below are some highlights from our outage updates the past six days. They tell the story of OPPD’s passion to serve and the hard work of hundreds of employees across the utility.

Saturday, July 10, 2021, 12:53 a.m.

A strong thunderstorm system moving through the area is leaving widespread power outages in its wake. At this time, 170,911 OPPD customers are without power.

OPPD operations are swinging into action to address the outages, calling in crews and assessing damage. Due to the continuing dangerous weather, crews will be in the field as quickly and safely as possible.

3:15 a.m.

Due to the severe tree damage and high winds, which caused widespread outages, OPPD operations are assessing the impact of strong thunderstorms that moved through the area early this morning. At this time, more than 180,000 customers are without power.

We will be assessing damage as quickly and safely as possible. Please be aware that there are many tree limbs and debris littering roads and streets, which will complicate the restoration process. Downed power lines may also be present.

All OPPD line crews and tree-trimming crews are being called in to work on restoration.

4:30 a.m.

As daylight approaches, we are seeing some progress on outages related to severe weather overnight. At this time, a little over 177,000 customers are without power. This storm is one of the most severe OPPD has seen in recent history. By comparison, the Father’s Day tornado in 2017 had outage numbers around 75,000. Today’s numbers are more than double that amount. Overnight, wind gusts of over 90 miles-per-hour were detected, classifying them as hurricane force.

3:45 p.m.

Outage numbers continue to fall and more customers are regaining power Saturday. At this time, nearly 50% of all outages have been restored, or 90,413. Approximately 97,000 customers remain without power.

Nearly 300 line personnel and tree trimming personnel are working to restore power into night, including assistance from area utilities and contractors. This assistance is through our mutual aid arrangements throughout the industry.

10:45 p.m.

Outage numbers have fluctuated a bit during restoration work, with 67,000 customers without power at this time. As our overnight work continues and we restore more circuits, that number will continue to drop. Then, work to repair a number of individual issues affecting smaller numbers of customers, such as transformer damage, will begin.

Sunday, July 11, 2021, 8 a.m.

Darkness didn’t stop OPPD crews from working around the clock to bring back power to customers. As the day begins, more than 120,000 customers have had their power restored after a peak of 188,000 outages yesterday. Approximately 65,000 customers remain without power.

6:45 p.m.

OPPD and mutual aid crews have made good progress Sunday on outages. We are estimating that by midnight, we will have 85%, or 158,000 customers restored from a peak of 188,000. Due to the extensive and complex tree damage, the remaining 30,000 customers will have restoration stretch longer.

We apologize for and understand the inconvenience a prolonged outage causes and we are thankful our customers have shown our crews and mutual aid partners appreciation and understanding as they work around the clock to bring back service.

Monday, July 12, 2021, 10:15 a.m.

OPPD is proud and grateful that we continue to make safe, steady progress overnight and moving forward this morning to restore power to 39,000 customers without power following Saturday’s hurricane-force winds and thunderstorm. At its peak, the storm resulted in 188,000 outages.

We have had reports that some are approaching or flagging down our workers in the field. We understand why they would want to reach out, but we ask customers to please keep their distance. This is for everyone’s safety – our crews and customers alike. The crews need to focus on the dangerous and important work of restoring power. To do this, they must maintain 100% focus.

By resisting the urge to engage with our crews, you can help us get this work done as quickly and safely as possible. Customers may also see workers in their trucks or standing by – it may not look like they are actively working, but please know that they ARE. There are tasks that involve awaiting electrification or testing power quality that are not as visible as a worker in a bucket truck. But this is ALL part of the restoration process.

9:30 p.m.

Outages have dropped below 30,000 this evening to approximately 28,600 customers without power. Please read below on our 4 p.m update for more details about our restoration goals.

OPPD and mutual aid crews will work through the night on remaining outages. Approximately 700 people are “boots on the ground” in this event, the largest restoration effort in OPPD history.

7122021_Backyard Equipment

Tuesday, July 13, 2021, 9:45 a.m.

The ranks of people working to restore power continues to grow, now numbering more than 800. This number includes OPPD crews, mutual aid crews and tree-trimming crews. At this time, the outage number is approximately 26,000 customers.

We understand why customers would want to reach out, but we ask customers to please keep their distance. This is for everyone’s safety – our crews and customers alike. The crews need to focus on the dangerous and important work of restoring power. To do this, they must maintain 100% focus, for their safety and the safety of everyone in the area.

The crews are also very appreciative of the notes customers are leaving on their truck windows, posting on poles, and other acts of kindness.

8:15 p.m.

the number of outages has fallen below the 20,000 mark. At this time approximately 19,000 customers are without power. Crews and personnel will work through the night on restoration.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 9:45 a.m.

Thanks to the long, hard work of crews and mutual aid overnight, OPPD was able to exceed its goal at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Yesterday, we estimated a goal of 15,000 customers out by that time. That number was instead approximately 14,000. Currently, there are just over 13,000 customers without power following a brief spell of rain and thunder this morning.

3:52 p.m.

Outages have now dropped below 10,000 to 9,829. This milestone is due to the continual hard work of our crews and mutual aid partners, which will continue into the evening and overnight hours.

8 p.m.

As night falls, restoration efforts continue to be successful. There are currently 7,374 customers without power. We are on track to meet our goal of achieving 96.3% restoration by 11:59 p.m. tonight, and possibly surpass it.

7142021 Night crew shot

Thursday, July 15, 2021 7:15 a.m.

OPPD crews and mutual aid surpassed our goal of 96.3% restoration by midnight last night. There are currently 5,622 customers without power.

1:15 p.m.

A brief thunderstorm that moved through the south rural portion of the OPPD service territory has caused an uptick in outage numbers. This outage is affecting approximately 600 customers in that area.

The cause of the outage in Richardson County has been found and a crew is addressing it as quickly and safely as possible. As a result of this additional outage, the current number of customers without power stands at 4,473.

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a brand journalism strategist at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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