The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 21, 2013

Roaring winds Southeast Iowa in clean-up mode after storm passes through

OTTUMWA — Work crews in and around Wapello County put in a lot of hours. And they were ready to do it again.

“We had the storms roll through there last night,” said Ryan Stensland, a spokesman for Alliant Energy. “Down in southeast part of the state, we had several thousand customers that lost power. At the peak of the storm, across Iowa, we had 40,000 customers without power.”

On Monday, he said that line workers had spent the night keeping up with damage. But another crew worked the morning, getting nearly everyone back on line. Nearly as important, however, is what that second crew permitted.

“Regulations allow line crews to work 16 hours before they must have eight hours for rest,” Stensland said.

So while the second crew was finishing up on Monday, that first crew was just coming on duty.

“Now, they’re getting ready for round two; if it happens, they’re ready to go,” he said Monday afternoon.

Wapello County didn’t get too much damage, said Josh Stevens, county emergency management coordinator. He picked up scanner traffic indicating a semi-truck blown over on Highway 34 a couple miles east of Ottumwa. And a pole barn was lifted up and moved by wind near Eldon.

“A farm just across the Eldon Bridge,” confirmed Eldon Mayor Shirley Stacey. “His barn got picked up off the foundation and then put down at the edge of the highway. One of our fire personnel was coming into town and saw it moving.”

Stacey received reports of strips of metal flying around. Shirly said with the noise and commotion, it’s no wonder the firefighter didn’t notice serious damage to her car until she made it to town.

“What are you thinking,” Shirly asked rhetorically, “when you see a whole building coming at you?”

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