State officials say today’s weather is complicating efforts to restore power to the 5,500 Rural Electric Cooperative customers who’ve been without electricity since last week’s ice storm.
“It’s one of those good news/bad news situations. Over the weekend what we saw was the utility companies put a lot of people back on power,” says David Miller, administrator of the Iowa Emergency Management Division. “The bad news is a lot of the isolated areas in the rural areas where there are a lot of downed lines are going to be slower to come on power and that causes us a concern about people being isolated and a little bit on the economic side, especially for large farm operations.”
Staff in Miller’s agency worked with staff in the Department of Agriculture this weekend to help farmers track down generators to buy or lease, and Miller says as of this morning, there was just one unmet request for a generator.
The governor has declared six western Iowa counties state disaster areas. Damage estimates must be forwarded to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to put the counties in line for a federal disaster designation.
“Today’s storm isn’t helping. We had hoped to have people on the ground in Carroll County this morning to do damage assessment and begin to walk through that process as a precursor to asking for a federal declaration,” Miller says. “And of course the roads are treacherous enough they’ve asked us to back off for today until the weather clears a little bit and we can begin to put people on the ground.”
The mayor of Carroll complained over the weekend that the state wasn’t doing enough to help his community which was hard-hit by the ice storm. Governor Culver was asked about those complaints this morning during a statehouse news conference. According to Culver, the mayor apologized this morning for making those remarks. The governor said Carroll’s mayor didn’t understand some of the process that must take place, as most of the debris removal equipment must come from other cities and counties.
The state D.O.T. doesn’t own a lot of debris removal equipment, according to Culver.