Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD) crews continue to make headway in rebuilding infrastructure and restoring power to customers, even as the full impact of this week’s winter storm continues to be uncovered. As of this afternoon, power had been restored to more than 5,000 EPUD customers, although outages remained widespread and 6,000 customers remained without power.
Much of the current work involves rebuilding the utility’s main poles and wires infrastructure, which must be completed before large numbers of customers can be restored. Emerald People’s Utility District crews are reporting that they have not seen this level of destruction in their entire careers.
“This storm’s damage is of biblical proportions,” said Del Casarez, EPUD Serviceman and employee of 23 years.
In response to the storm’s devastation, EPUD has mobilized crews from around the state to assist in broad restoration efforts.
“We have 55 line workers and 10 tree trimmers working day and night removing downed power lines, repairing damaged equipment, and restoring power to customers,” said Patty Jo Angelini, EPUD public relations coordinator.
“To put this in perspective, 20 of the line workers are EPUD staff. The additional 35 have come in from other Oregon utilities not in the storm’s path. All are working as quickly and as safely as possible to repair our infrastructure and restore power to customers,” she said.
EPUD has several important messages for the public:
- Customers and the public need to understand the extreme danger of downed power lines. EPUD crews have witnessed customers taking major safety risks near downed lines. Downed lines have the power to kill. You do not have to touch a line to be electrocuted. “We know customers are tired and cold but walking or driving over a downed line, or attempting to move it, can make things far worse,” Angelini said.
- Downed lines on roadways, driveways, buildings, and cars are EPUD’s top priority. Customers with downed lines in their backyards or on farmland will have to wait longer.
- Restoring power is unpredictable right now due to changing weather and the number of repairs that are needed. Some customers may find their power still out after their neighbor’s power has been restored. This is not uncommon and we ask those customers for patience.
- Customers requiring medical equipment or who cannot tolerate the cold are encouraged to stay elsewhere with family or friends until power is restored. “Our expectation is that this outage will extend for at least another week,” Angelini said.
- Lane County has opened a non-emergency resource line for customers that may be struggling with an extended power outage. Please call (541) 682-3977. Please note this resource line has limited hours and will open again at 8 am on Thursday, February 28. Customers should call 911 in the case of any life-threatening emergencies.
Emerald PUD is a not‐for‐profit electric utility formed in 1978 by a small group of local citizens who wanted better, customer‐oriented service at the lowest possible rates. Today EPUD serves more than 20,000 meters in Lane County, Oregon.