By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin
Published: December 09. 2009 4:00AM PST advertisement:
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For updated information about the power outage and emergency services, call the Deschutes County emergency information line at 541-550-4888.
Central Oregonians warned to watch out for ice dams
The power will likely still be out for some households in the Sisters, Black Butte and Camp Sherman areas this morning, more than 24 hours after an outage hit 3,000 households began due to an equipment failure related to the cold weather.
Central Electric Cooperative also anticipated scattered, unrelated outages overnight, and crews planned to work through the night, according to a news release sent out late Tuesday.
Utility and contract crews had restored power by 6 p.m. Tuesday to about 70 percent of the 3,000 households from north Bend west to Black Butte Ranch and Camp Sherman that lost power during the outage that began early Tuesday morning.
Cold weather was a factor in the equipment failure that caused the outage, with subzero temperatures in Sisters overnight Monday and a high temperature of 12 degrees Tuesday. The temperature was forecast to dip back to 6 degrees below zero Tuesday night in Sisters.
The National Weather Service forecast continued cold temperatures through the weekend in Bend, with a high temperature barely topping freezing on Sunday, according to the service's Web site.
The problem began at about 2:30 a.m. when a connector stopped working, said Alan Guggenheim, CEC member services director. “Extreme cold weather caused it to fail,” he said.
The failure had a cascading effect, knocking out a 69,000-volt power transmission line near the Tollgate substation northwest of Sisters.
Some customers experienced power surges when electricity began flowing, causing it to fluctuate or go out again. Guggenheim suggested customers with power still out should turn off major appliances at the circuit breaker, or in the case of a furnace, dial down the thermostat, but leave on some lights, so they will know when power is restored.
When power returns, he said, customers should wait 15-20 minutes to turn on the appliances and the furnace, to ensure they get an even flow of electricity.
Few residents using shelter
As of Tuesday evening, CEC was working with Deschutes County Emergency Services, as well as the sheriff's offices in Deschutes and Jefferson counties.
Deschutes County Search and Rescue team members went from house to house in the Black Butte Ranch and Camp Sherman areas Tuesday to check on residents and visited the homes of 30 people with health conditions to see if they needed help, according to a Deschutes County news release.
Members of the Central Oregon Council on Aging also coordinated several groups to identify and contact vulnerable residents who might have needed help.
The Oregon Mountain River Chapter of the American Red Cross established a shelter at Sisters Elementary, 611 E. Cascade Ave., for residents who could not comfortably stay in their homes, but only one person had sought shelter there by 5 p.m. Tuesday, said Deschutes County spokeswoman Anna Johnson.
“We're going to put him in a hotel, because it's not reasonable to keep it open for one person,” she said.
Guggenheim recommended that those seeking shelter in other locations, such as a motel, check in with emergency officials at the school, in case relatives call to check on residents who have left home.
Bulletin reporter Tim Doran contributed to this report.
Hillary Borrud can be reached at 541-617-7829 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.