Power outages pass 48 hour mark for some families

Carolann Stanford of Carson City looks over her damaged Jeep after an 80-foot cottonwood tree was uprooted by the wind in this weekend's storm.  A second tree at the house also blew over damaging the front fence; no one was injured.

Carolann Stanford of Carson City looks over her damaged Jeep after an 80-foot cottonwood tree was uprooted by the wind in this weekend's storm. A second tree at the house also blew over damaging the front fence; no one was injured.

Lyon and Storey counties declared local emergencies Monday after hundreds of people were still in the cold following a weekend storm that knocked out power to thousands throughout Northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe region.

"There's quite a few people up and down this area here in downtown Dayton that have been without power for 48 hours. Every time we call Sierra Pacific Power, we get recordings that it's been reported. How long will older people have to suffer without heat?" asked Lee Sommers, 72, owner of Old Fogey's Bar and Antiques at Main Street and Highway 50 East in Dayton.

The west side of Dayton's downtown district, including the Dayton substation for the Lyon County Sheriff's Department, was still without power Monday evening.

The entire town of Virginia City and Virginia Highlands were without power for 26 hours starting Saturday at noon until Sunday night at 6 p.m., said Joe Curtis, Virginia City Volunteer Fire Department chief.

"We have a rather sophisticated and well-oiled emergency management machine," he said. He added that arrangements had been made for a refrigerated truck to store perishables for local businesses, and people were being shuttled to family members' homes that had wood stoves.

The Salvation Army delivered hundreds of meals, which the fire department distributed.

Record winds Saturday were followed by two days of intermittent snow that layered the valley in slush and blanketed the Sierra more than 2 feet deep.

More than 75 power poles were lost or damaged to the storm, said Karl Walquist, spokesman for Sierra Pacific Power Co.

"We've got everybody we can get and then some working on this," he said.

He had no forecast as to when the power would return to normal.

"It's just almost impossible to estimate," he said. "Some areas could take a few days."

Stagecoach service was restored Monday; however, by Monday night, about 50 people in Silver Springs, 100 in Minden-Gardnerville and 50 in Carson City were still without power.

Walker and Coleville had 900 homes out, 100 were out in Yerington, and 200 in Smith Valley. Alpine County, Markleeville and Woodfords still had 2,500 customers without service.

South Lake Tahoe had the most people affected, with 3,800 still without service Monday night, Walquist said.

In Minden-Gardnerville, where power was lost Saturday, fewer transformers than normal were operating.

"We don't have all the transmission lines and are asking customers there to conserve. Do some little things like not turning on Christmas lights, not running the washing machine and dishwasher, until we are able to get those transmission lines repaired," he said.

Ignoring the warnings could cause an overload and another outage, he said.

At 4 p.m. Monday, a South Carson City neighborhood without power since Saturday found the lights were back on.

"I'm just so thankful and feel really blessed," said Cora Cowen, 70, whose home is on Center Street south of Snyder Street. She and her 80-year-old husband, Lee, braved the chilly nights without electricity by piling on covers. Meals were either eaten at restaurants or prepared by members of their church.

"We've been fortunate that our church members have been real good to us," she said.

A snow advisory remained in effect for the western valleys, where as much as 4 inches was forecast. The Sierra remained under a winter storm warning, with another 2 feet of snow likely on top of 2 feet or more that fell over the weekend.

Trooper Pat McGill of the Nevada Highway Patrol said despite the slippery roadways, officers had responded to few accidents in the Carson City, Lake Tahoe and Minden-Gardnerville areas.

"We've actually had only four accidents, but over 110 cars have been towed in last 48 hours," he said. "It's just been calls on a bunch of slideouts."

Today's weather is expected to be cold and showery.

"Temperatures likely will not get out of the 30s in most locations," said Wendell Hohmann, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Wednesday should be more mild, but by Thursday night, another disturbance is approaching and could bring with it another round of snow, he said.

As for a white Christmas, Hohmann said it was to early be sure, but it looked promising.

"A pretty big system is expected to come in Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. If the pattern holds, we could see some snow on Christmas. "


Important Numbers

-- Road Conditions: 1-877-687-6237

-- Sierra Pacific Power: 1-800-962-4167

-- Red Cross: 856-1000

In the event of a power outage, the Red Cross offers the following tips:

-- Do not open the refrigerator or freezer. Tell children not to open the door. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a couple of hours at least. A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours.

--If it looks like the power outage will be for more than 2 to 4 hours, pack refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, gravy, stuffing and leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice.

-- If it looks like the power outage will be prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for freezer items.

-- As soon as the power returns, check temperatures. If the food in the freezer has ice crystals and is not above 40 degrees, you can refreeze it. Perishable foods in the refrigerator should not be above 40 degrees F. for more than two hours.

Source: http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/


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