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Residents without electricity remain patient, positive

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 6:27 p.m. CDT; updated 6:37 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2014
In addition to the fallen trees and other debris that needed to be removed from yards and pavement after Monday's storm, residents of Marion Drive and the surrounding neighborhood might be without power through the weekend.

COLUMBIA — After two nights without lights and a day without air conditioning, some Columbia residents are waiting patiently for their electricity to be restored. Despite the inconveniences created by not having power, many residents are remaining optimistic.

The storms that swept through the city on Monday night left many houses without electricity: 1,510 customers of Columbia Water and Light, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. All Boone Electric Cooperative customers had their power restored by Tuesday evening, spokeswoman Christi Miller said.

A neighborhood west of West Boulevard, south of West Broadway and north and east of Stadium Boulevard was heavily affected by power outages. Many houses there were left with significant roof damage from downed trees. Tree service crews were still working Wednesday to remove fallen branches and tree trunks from yards, roads and roofs.

Andy McClellan loaded perishable items he wished to save from his refrigerator and freezer Wednesday morning into several coolers. McClellan said he planned to take the food to a refrigerator in his office at MU.

McClellan, whose house on Marion Drive sustained mild damage from a fallen tree in his backyard, was among those who fared well in the storm.

"It could be worse," he said as he secured the coolers in the back of his Subaru.

A walk down Marion Drive revealed the extent of the storm damage. Piles of brush and branches that had blocked the thoroughfare lined the street. Several houses looked battered from downed trees; the attic of one was crushed. Woodchippers growled and buzzed as they chewed away at fallen tree limbs.

Also on Marion Drive, Tamara Hancock sat on her front porch, taking a break from clearing debris from her yard. Hancock, whose home sustained minor damage to shingles and a fence, said she has not been overly inconvenienced by the power outage.

"We can't make coffee in the morning," Hancock said. "We've been finding places to eat and drink where we can charge our phones."

She is, however, worried about not having air conditioning this weekend, when high temperatures will be in the low 90s, according the National Weather Service.

Columbia Water and Light spokeswoman Connie Kacprowicz said she couldn't comment on when power in particular areas would be restored. The number of incidents of storm damage, and time necessary for repairing each one, add to the difficulty of getting the power back on, she said.

Russel Newton, whose house on Medavista Drive was punctured in at least three places by a pine tree that landed on his roof, expressed gratitude that the weather after the storm has been mild. He wasn't missing the air conditioning yet, but said not having lights in his kitchen was an inconvenience.

"I have a gas stove, I could cook," he said.

Newton hadn't opened his refrigerator or freezer, but said he and some of his neighbors were planning to have a picnic Wednesday night to eat their perishable foods at risk of spoiling. Newton said he had already given away some of his produce to his neighbors.

"I've got a plethora of zucchini this time of of year," Newton said.

For Vince Hawkins, whose house on Marion Drive is without electricity, that kind of neighborly cooperation is the silver lining to the situation. Hawkins had been running his house on a generator until it stopped working. Outside, he noticed his neighbors chatting more than usual and helping each other clear debris from yards. 

"People have come together," Hawkins said. "I've met neighbors I hadn't even seen before."

Hawkins, a minister at Columbia's International Church, said he appreciates the opportunity for his neighbors to connect, even in adverse situations. Some members of his congregation were also planning to come help clear trees and other debris in the neighborhood, he said.

"It's been kind of a blessing for the neighborhood," he said. "In times of crisis, people come together."

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey. 


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