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Saturday afternoon storm takes out utility poles, power lines across West Plains


A severe thunderstorm accompanied by high winds Saturday afternoon resulted in the loss of power to about 2,600 West Plains residents, along with the replacement of damaged electrical poles and repairs to power lines.

Power was restored to most residents about 10 hours after it went out, according to city utility employees, who worked well into Sunday to make the most urgent of repairs.

Poles and lines were replaced on Bratton Avenue, Worcester Street, Myrtle Street and Missouri Avenue. Two substations also went down as a result of downed limbs across lines and broken poles, and service at some houses had to be interrupted while damage was being repaired, city officials said.

A downed 69 kilovolt ampere (kVa) transmission line on Bratton Avenue was replaced in order to restore power to the two substations’ transformers, then crews started checking circuits going out of the substations before reenergizing them as a safety measure. As repairs were underway, electrical department workers diverted circuits from areas that were not damaged to other circuits in order to restore power to those that were down.

About 10 hours after the substations went down, workers had most power restored and isolated the remaining outage to Bratton Avenue, officials said. At that location, two 65-foot transmission poles were down with three-phase under the transmission line. To replace them, crews had to auger new holes for each pole and started setting new 70 foot poles then frame the transmission poles and repair the distribution primary on the poles before focusing on transmission line repair.

During that time customers were still calling in about other areas that didn’t have power or limbs on lines that crews had to check. Once the transmission and distribution lines had been repaired, workers reenergized the 69 kVa lines and distribution lines and moved all circuits back to their original substations to balance the system and help prevent overload.

On the 600 block of Worcester Street, a residential neighborhood two blocks south of West Main Street, a large limb took out a three-phase power line and four utility poles during the storm. Crews made repairs and had power restored at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

The electric department had a total of 11 employees who worked up to 30 hours to restore power, officials commented. More poles were replaced Wednesday that had damage, but didn’t affect the electric system.

City officials thanked the street department for helping with tree removal and the planning department for helping with damage to services by working with customers, plus Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative for providing copper line to help with repairs to the transmission line.