Oklahoma storms: Moore family was without electricity for almost a month

A family in the Baer's Westmore subdivision in Moore looked on as neighbors had their power restored after the May 20 tornado. But a combination of utility repairs and city inspection paperwork meant Ken Steiner and his family spent almost a month without electric service.
by Paul Monies Published: June 18, 2013
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— For almost a month after the May 20 tornado ripped through Moore, everyone around Ken Steiner's house in the Baer's Westmore addition had power but him.

At first, he and his family waited patiently for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. to make the necessary repairs to the electrical infrastructure in the neighborhood just south of SW 19. In the meantime, Steiner kept topping up the gasoline for a portable generator so his lights and window air-conditioning units could stay on.

But as days turned into weeks, Steiner's frustration grew. OG&E told him the city of Moore had to send an inspector to make sure the house met electrical code. When that inspector showed up, he said Steiner's landlord would need a building inspection to make sure roof repairs were acceptable.

More days passed. When city inspectors got around to the building inspection, the paperwork wasn't filed properly, leading to more delays and more frustration. Steiner estimates he's spent about $40 a day on gasoline for the portable generator since his family was able to get back into the neighborhood on May 24.

“It is a battle to get electricity,” he said Tuesday morning between working for a property management company and making more phone calls to OG&E. “The 7-Eleven down the street, the liquor store, everyone around me has power except me.”

But by Tuesday afternoon, OG&E had a sent an employee out to hook up Steiner's electricity.

“All my utilities are back on, and I'm a happy man,” he said Tuesday evening.

Steiner said large appliances and his central air-conditioning were damaged by a power surge and need repairs, but he's glad to have electricity again.

“At least I can sit by the window unit and soak up some cold air without worrying about the generator,” he said.

Speed vs. safety

OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said the utility worked with Moore officials after the deadly May 20 tornado to establish guidelines for when and how electricity could be restored safely. If there were visible holes in the roof or any type of damage fewer than 25 feet from the meter base — regardless of roof or structural damage — the utility would not provide power until repairs were made.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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At least I can sit by the window unit and soak up some cold air without worrying about the generator.”

Ken Steiner,

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