'It would be great to have power again'

'It would be great to have power again' »Play Video
Last weekend's ice storm toppled trees across Eugene and Western Oregon, knocking out power to thousands of people. Power had yet to be restored to all customers as of Wednesday.

EUGENE, Ore. – For some, the lights have been off for five days - and counting.

“I basically have to sleep with like 10 more blankets than I usually would have to just to stay warm," said David Hepler, who lives on Sylvan Street with his dad.

Fallen trees crushed power lines during the ice storm on Saturday.

A large powerline hangs low across Hepler's front yard.

“I’m pretty tall. I have to squat to get to my house,” Hepler said. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s still on or not.”

Up the street, the Hardin family has been without power since Saturday, too.

“We’re lucky we have a wood stove,” Olivia Hardin said. “We’ve been able to heat a little water and cook eggs and keep the house warm. We’ve been having family slumber parties.”

Hardin has a 9-month-old and a 3-year-old.

“We’re ready to go another day if we need to,” Hardin said while holding her baby girl. “But it would be great to have power again. My house is a mess.”

It was not until Tuesday when EWEB crews were able to access Sylvan Street and other streets in the Hendricks Park neighborhood.

“When we have ice that is literally adding thousands of pounds to trees, trees will come down and land on our overhead lines,” said Joe Harwood, spokesperson for EWEB. “When we get ice storms like this, all the trees we love so much become liabilities.”

Harwood said no utility company is prepared for a storm of this magnitude.

Repair priority depends on several factors: how many are affected and accessibility to the lines.

Crews had to wait for tree service crews to clear roads before reaching many streets.

“We restore those areas that bring back power to the most people the quickest," Harwood said.

Power starts at a source and is moved to substations. From there it moves to major feeder lines.

Feeder lines affect the greatest number of customers.

Distribution lines power neighborhoods, and smaller tap lines provide power to blocks.
Single, individual lines are generally the last to be fixed, since they only affect a single home.

Harwood said if a tree falls on a feeder line or a distribution line, crews will be sent there first.

“When a single home is out, that’s because the service line between their house and the street is down and those are the last to be restored,” he said.

If everything goes as planned, EWEB expects to only have about 400 without power, nearly half the number of customers who were without power Tuesday.

EWEB had only about 10 percent of it’s customer-base without power during peak outages on Saturday.

If you see a downed line, do not approach it. Call your utility provider.

If you are still without power, Harwood said everyone will have power restored soon.