Westar Crews Making Dent In Outage Numbers

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Westar Energy said Saturday its crews were making progress on efforts to restore power to the thousands of customers who lost electricity after Thursday evening's severe storm. However, Westar said it may now be Monday before all customers have their power restored.

A neighborhood near Haysville just southwest of 89th Street South and Broadway had power restored about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, nearly 48 hours after the storm knocked it out.

Stanley Smith said, in the time he's lived there, he has not seen damage as bad as that caused by Thursday's storm, even when tornadoes barely missed the neighborhood.

"We've had two go by us," Smith said. "Years back, we had one go right over the top of us, but most of us that have lived down here for years have never seen the trees do the things they did in this storm."

Westar Energy line foreman Gene Nixon and his Salina-based crew arrived in the Wichita area Saturday. They have been following the storm's damage path across the state.

"We worked at Brookville and Marquette and been kind of slowly working our way south," Nixon said. "We worked at Newton all night last night and we'll probably be here in Wichita until we get finished up."

At 10 p.m. Saturday, 7,546 customers in Sedgwick County remained with out power. That total included several businesses. Some of them, like the Cici's Pizza near 31st Street South and Seneca in Wichita, will still be delayed in reopening once power has been restored.

"It will probably be at least six to eight hours after the power comes back," said manager Skippy Cavanaugh. He will have to wait to receive an all-new food inventory before the restaurant can open.

Cavanaugh said he's had to throw away most of his inventory and his employees have had to miss two days of work, but he said Westar's priority needs to be residential customers.

While there certainly have been complaints and criticism about how long restoration efforts are taking, residents also have offered plenty of praise for crews who have been working 36 hours straight before taking a six-hour break and returning to work.

"The gentlemen here, they did a fantastic job," Smith said. "You know, we always complain about some of the stuff, but they did a good job."

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