Oklahomans without power should brace themselves for survival, an electric utility spokesman said.
"We’re telling people to make preparations to be without power for up to two to three weeks,” said Sid Sperry, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives spokesman. "If (electricity) goes on before then, well then we’re all blessed.”
Sperry’s words define the magnitude of Oklahoma’s latest ice storm, which hammered homes from Hollis to as far east as Stilwell. The greatest devastation remains in the state’s southwest region, where Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Washita, Kiowa, Cotton, Tillman, Caddo and Comanche county residents suffered the most damage. The state Corporation Commission reported 70,899 homes and businesses were without electric service Tuesday afternoon.
In some of those areas, snapped power lines can be seen for miles. Entire towns are still in the dark and some hospitals and water treatment plants have been running on generators since Thursday.
"In terms of size, the thing this comes closest to is the ice storm of January 2002,” Sperry said. "In that storm we lost more than 50,000 poles. When all is said and done, we might lose 10,000 poles this time around.”
Chris Killmer, spokesman for Comanche County, said there’s no telling how long power will be down in some parts of the county.
"They’re basically having to redo everything,” Killmer said.
Rural fire departments and other volunteers in Caddo County have been delivering meals and bottled water, said Larry McDuffey, director of emergency management for the county.
Janice Cain, city administrator for Marlow, said electric officials expect to have power restored to Marlow’s substation sometime Friday. When that happens, crews can start assessing problem areas for individual customers, Cain said.
Crews from six other cities are working to replace or fix broken poles and transformers and remove trees caught on lines.