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SWEPCO: Could be noon Wednesday before power restored

By Sarah Thomas
March 3, 2014 at 4:38 a.m.

Thousands of East Texas residents remain without power and SWEPCO officials say it could be noon Wednesday before power is restored.

"The rapidly forming ice storm caused a lot of problems especially in East Texas where there were pretty much three towns hit: Longview, Gladewater and Gilmer," AEP Southwest Power Co. spokesman Scott McCloud said Monday morning.

As of 8 a.m., there were more than 9,000 customers without power in Longview, about 3,500 without power in Gladewater and about 2,500 without power in Gilmer, McCloud said.

Of SWEPCO's 28,000 customers who lost power, 26,000 were in East Texas.

Crews have been able to restore power to half of those affected in Longview where the peak outage saw 18,350 customers in the dark at 10 p.m. Sunday, he said.

"West and North Longview were hit the hardest," McCloud said.

At midnight, 4,200 people were without power in Gladewater and 2,600 were without power in Gilmer.

McCloud estimated crews could have 95 percent of the outages restored noon Wednesday.

"That should change as we get resources in place," he said, adding 275 total resources will be dedicated to the area.

The outages, McCloud said, were mostly caused by falling tree limbs and ice accumulations on power lines.

"The temperature dropped so fast, and we already had moisture in the air. If it had slowed down and we have 10, 12 hours of this it, would've been worse," he said.

He added the area's abundance of pine trees is a factor in the widespread outages.

"Pine trees are the worst. They will snap in a heartbeat," he said.

Longview Fire Marshal Johnny Zackary echoed McCloud about the frailty of pine trees when faced with an ice storm.

"Pines are notorious to snap when they ice up," he said.

Zackary said his crews fielded numerous calls about power outages, downed power lines and fallen tree limbs.

Longview police dispatch reported there hadn't been any wrecks but several traffic lights were affected by the weather.

Traffic signals were out or not cycling properly at H.G. Moseley and Bill Owens Parkway, Judson Road and Hollybrook Drive, Judson Road and McCann Road, Magnolia Lane and Judson Road, Enterprise Street and Loop 281, Cotton Street and Loop 281 and George Richey and Pine Tree roads.

A downed utility pole closed Pliler Precise Road in north Longview between Farmer Street and McCann Road, Zackary said.

<em>- Follow Sarah Thomas on Twitter: <a href="" target="_blank">@SarahLNJ</a></em>



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