Ice storm legacy lingers across county

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That a snowfall of 6 to 8 inches on Friday evening through Saturday noon was seen by many almost as a minor inconvenience in comparison, speaks to the impact of the ice storm that rolled through Marion County and most of central Kansas three days earlier.

Reminiscent of the ice that coated the area in January 2005, last Tuesday?s storm caused similar problems: power outages, tree damage, hazardous driving conditions, school closings and the postponement or cancellation of myriad events, meetings and athletic contests.

Some of the hardest hit areas were the small communities of northern Marion County. As of Monday evening, Lost Springs, Lincolnville, Ramona, Pilsen and Tampa were all without power, according to Marion County Communications.

Centre schools, which serve that area, had not met for classes since Tuesday.

MCC Director Michelle Abbott-Becker said residents in those community may have to wait as long as Dec. 22 before power is fully restored, and some have beent old it could be Jan. 1.

?We have a shelter in Lincolnville,? Abbott-Becker said. ?People can go in there to get warm, get water, use the showers, use the restrooms. They?re doing three meals a day, if there?s people there.

?After a length of time without power and you can?t cook, they are going to get to a point where they?re going to need that.?

Abbott-Becker said door-to-door canvasses have been done in some areas with the help emergency personnel from Butler County.

?We attempted to do some door-to-door contacts to check the welfare of people and get a good feel of who had electricity and who had phone, and who needed livestock assistance.?

Beyond the communities themselves, pockets of rural residents throughout were without power as of Monday. That was mostly in the northern half of the county, but was true as well in parts of the southern half.

Meanwhile, part of the Durham community was still without power on Monday, according to Mayor Glennon Crowther. But most residents had power restored within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Lehigh?s power was restored by Sunday evening.

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Kalen Moss, 10, shovels the walk in front of her house Saturday along Lincoln Street in Hillsboro. Don Ratzlaff


The county?s larger communities fared relatively well. Peabody officials reported no loss of power community-wide while Marion was out for about four hours on Tuesday afternoon.

Hillsboro, meanwhile, lost power community-wide for a little more than eight hours on Tuesday night because of a mechanical problem at the Westar Energy substation (see related article).

About half of Florence was without power for about six hours, according to city officials, and Goessel and Burns endured spotty outages as well.

Abbott-Becker said she was concerned that people who have been without electrical power for an extended period not use food if thawing has occurred.

She also reminded people with emergency generators not to use them indoors, but to make sure they are located outdoors in well-ventilated areas.

Despite information to the contrary, Abbott-Becker said there is no personal financial assistance available to individuals yet through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

?There?s a lot of confusion about that right now,? Abbott-Becker said. ?It?s all equipment and services?like the National Guard, generators, water. But right now it has not been declared that there will be personal assistance. So there?s no cash reimbursement to individuals or to entities.

?I?m not saying it might not go that way in the future, but right now it?s not,? she said. ?A lot of people are saying, ?I hear you?re going to pay me for my generator,? and that just not the case yet now?or maybe not ever.??

Storm destroys 10,000+ poles

Linemen worked throughout the weekend with electric cooperative members at 14 cooperatives across the state, including Flint Hills Electrical Cooperative in Marion County.

This weekend?s efforts have decreased the number of outages from more than 50,000 at the peak to around 16,000 outages as of Monday morning, according to Kansas Electric Cooperatives Inc.

While some areas of the state have already completely restored power, other areas may take up to seven days before all services are restored, according to KECI.

The electric cooperatives have brought in more than 1,000 linemen from private contractors and electric cooperatives from nine other states to assist the Kansas electric cooperatives in restoring service to members.

Electric cooperatives from Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas have sent crews and equipment to provide aid.

Since the beginning of the storm, 23 of Kansas? distribution cooperatives have lost almost 10,000 utility poles and have had more than 50,000 outages.

In addition to breaking lines and falling utility poles, line crews have also encountered theft of equipment from the line trucks.

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