December storm parallels 2006 event

Prior to the December 2007 ice storm, Kansas had already experienced three federally-declared disasters resulting in a total of more than $480 million in damages.

The winter storm of 2006 affected 44 western Kansas counties and resulted in $386 million dollars in expenses, while the Greensburg tornado in May and the northeast/north central flooding at the same time resulted in $70 million in reimbursable losses.

Then the June 29 southeast Kansas flooding left more than $26 million in expenses.

The preliminary damage estimates for the recent ice storm reveal about $144 million in losses for electrical cooperatives alone.

That leaves the state with more than $625 million in reimbursable losses in 2007, and the total is expected to increase as the damage assessments provide new information.

?2007 was an unbelievable year in Kansas,? said Tod Bunting, director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management and Kansas adjutant general. ?We lost 25 lives in the four storms, an entire community was nearly destroyed, many homes and personal belongings forever lost, and not a county in the state was spared some sort of impact.

?The four disasters last year left a deep mark on our state, but we have seen the strength of Kansans as individuals and communities rebuild their lives, homes and businesses.?

As preliminary damage assessment teams are surveying the losses from the recent ice storm, there are several similarities to the ice storm that hit the state a year ago.

On Dec. 28, 2006, the storm moved into western Kansas and by New Year?s Eve, it had grown in intensity resulting in numerous power outages.

The recent storm moved into the state Dec. 6, 2007 and intensified Dec. 10, also resulting in a large number of power outages.

Kansas electric cooperatives sustained tremendous losses of power lines and poles in both storms. In 2006, nine of the co-ops were affected with more than 10,000 utility poles knocked down or damaged and 21 transmission structures impacted.

This time, 23 co-ops were affected and nearly 10,000 utility poles were again knocked down.

Outages at the peak of last year?s storm were at 46,000 customers while about 50, 000 were in the dark this time. Power remained out for about three weeks in the western Kansas storm, and for about two weeks this time.

The December 2006 ice storm was the most expensive storm ever in the state with more than $386 million expended due to the storm, and about $350 million of those dollars went to reimburse the Kansas electric cooperatives for their repairs.

Total damage assessments from the current storm won?t be in for a week or two, but preliminary assessments from Kansas electric cooperatives indicate abut $144 million in losses have occurred to the electrical coops from the current storm.

That number is expected to climb and does not include expenses incurred by local governments to respond to the storm with emergency protective measures and debris clearing.

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