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EWEB Incorporates Lessons Learned From Ice Storm 2016

Brian Bull

The big ice storm that hit the Eugene area in December 2016 proved a major challenge for local utilities. KLCC’s Brian Bull shares what EWEB learned from the experience.

With much of the city encased in heavy ice, roads became impassable, trees shattered, branches fell, and power lines and transformers went down, everywhere.

Credit David Geltge Sierralupe / Flickr.com

“Probably the most destructive storm to hit this area since that 1962 Columbus Day storm, where wind speed exceed 140 miles per hour," says EWEB spokesman Joe Harwood.

"It was a typhoon.”

Harwood says there were lessons learned from 2016, that EWEB has implemented in its response plans going forward.  They’ve gone from 12 to 32 damage assessment teams, expanded their phone line capacity, arranged response crews into specific geographic areas, and cross-trained employees in a number of response duties.

“One of the things we don’t want, is our skilled techs sitting on a live line waiting for a crew," says Harwood. "So we have folks that normally work inside, cross-trained, so they can go out and make sure people are staying away from those live wires.”

Harwood adds since last winter, more homeowners have been open to having their trees trimmed. In years past, many resisted attempts by EWEB crews.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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