Heavy winds in Columbia left some without power

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 | 5:44 p.m. CDT; updated 11:47 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 24, 2011

COLUMBIA — Heavy winds caused a tree to fall on a power line early Tuesday morning, causing power outages for about 1,200 residents who receive power from the city.

The fallen tree, located around 1512 W. Rollins St., affected a circuit feeding Worley Street, West Boulevard and a section of Stadium Boulevard at about 1:30 a.m. or 2 a.m., said Tony Cunningham, electric distribution manager at Columbia Water and Light. The neighborhoods surrounding those streets were all affected by the broken power line.

There are programs in place to help prevent power outages.

Columbia Water and Light has a tree-trimming program that "covers every area in town over a three-year period, and they trim back accordingly,” Cunningham said.

The program is meant to take care of expanded tree growth as well, but it is unable to manage this until there are sparse outages, Cunningham said.

A broken power line pole also caused outages for about 1,800 members of Boone Electric Cooperative, Vicki Kemna, said manager of the Human Resources and Communications Department.

“We think that wind did contribute to the pole breaking,” Kemna said. “The pole that broke was a very large pole, and it carried a long circuit. We got the first report of an outage a little after 1 a.m., and that’s when the pole broke.”

The broken pole was located on Clark Lane across from The Links apartments. Subdivisions, including East Port Village and Fairway Meadows, were affected from about 1:10 a.m. to 4:45 a.m.

Boone Electric Cooperative has a pole testing program and a right-of-way clearing program, which are both meant to ensure that natural elements don’t interrupt the power supplied to customers.

“We try to make sure that tree limbs have a 30-foot clearance from overhead power lines,” Kemna said, referring to the right-of-way clearing program.

The pole-testing program involves testing the power line poles in certain areas every year.

“We test the poles to make sure they are still solid, and if we find one that doesn’t meet the safety standards, then we try to replace it before it becomes a problem,” Kemna said.

Chuck Mastalski of the Boone County Emergency Management Agency said the best thing to do if a power outage occurs is to call Columbia Water and Light.

“Don’t call 911,” Mastalski said. “It overloads their system and they can’t do anything to restore power.”

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