While most Iowans are returning to the office from a four-day weekend, hundreds of employees from Iowa’s largest utility worked all during the blizzard, trying to restore power to thousands of homes. Ann Thelen, spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy, says intermittent power outages are still cropping up this morning.
“We did have all of our customers from the original storm restored by 5 P.M. Sunday,” Thelen says. “What we’re seeing now is, there’s still a significant ice buildup on the power lines. That, coupled with the winds, we’re getting some galloping of the lines, some lines are coming down, the equipment on the lines is heavily ice-covered and that’s causing some power outages.”
Much of the damage was focused in areas of western Iowa, near Audubon, Ida Grove and Carroll. Thelen says hundreds of MidAmerican workers had a very busy holiday. “We had more than 350 line workers in that area, we had another 200 tree resources workers, ready to help with trees that came down,” she says. “We had hundreds of support personnel, assessors and supervisors.”
At the peak of the storm, she says between 6 and 7,000 of the utility’s customers were without power across Iowa. That number is down around a hundred now. Thelen says it was a challenging weekend for everyone. “Travel conditions made restoration (of power) extremely difficult,” she says.
“With the winds and the heavy snow, we had a lot of re-drifting. As soon as the plows have cleared the roads, they would get drifted again, and we haven’t had an increase in temperatures to warm up and melt some of that ice off, so the crews are working in very difficult conditions.” Thelen says it’ll be several days before they can affix a price tag to this storm.