Crews work all night to restore power at MHS, school offices

by: Photo By Holly M. Gill - Bruce Hoisington, in bucket, and Mike Baisley, both of the Bend Qwest office, reattach telephone lines after the power pole at Sixth and Buff streets was broken by strong winds, and replaced.

   High winds and rain early in the morning last Wednesday caused power outages all over Jefferson County and the daylong closure of Madras High School.
   "Crews worked all night long and all the next day to restore power," said Boomer Fleming, general foreman for Madras for Pacific Power. Fleming said that at least a couple hundred people were affected.
   The largest outage resulted from the winds and rain breaking off the wooden crosspiece at the top of a power pole on Buff Street, at Sixth Street, sometime before 1:30 a.m. The top of the pole ignited and burned, and a transformer was blown out.
   That pole caused outages at Madras High School, the School District 509-J and Support Services offices, the Buff Annex, the south Madras wastewater treatment plant on McTaggart, and at residences and businesses in the area.
   "At 4:30 in the morning I got a call from the Sheriff's Office, who'd been notified by Pacific Power that a transformer was out," said School District 509-J Superintendent Keith Johnson.
   When Johnson asked the power company how long it would be out, he said he was unable to get assurances that the pole could be replaced by 10 a.m., so he chose to cancel classes at the high school.
   The outage also affected telephone service to three elementary schools -- Westside Elementary, Metolius Elementary, and Warm Springs Elementary. "Two days before, we converted three elementary schools to voice override," said Johnson. "We had not yet programmed the machine for the backup system, so the phones were dead."
   Ordinarily, the high school has a backup generator, "but it wasn't set up to work yet because of construction," he said.
   After the power was restored at 8 a.m. -- much earlier than expected -- it took about 45 minutes to reset machines and systems, Johnson added.
   Pacific Power crews and servicemen spent about four hours replacing the telephone pole.
   Along the Culver Highway, the roof of a shed, which Fleming estimated was about 10 feet by 20 feet, blew off and struck a power pole, knocking off the top. That pole knocked out power to several residences, and also had to be replaced.
   Fleming said there were numerous other smaller outages affecting localized areas, such as Madras Ranchos.
   In Warm Springs, two more transformers blew out, including one on HeHe Butte, and Blue Lake Road, which only affected a few customers.
   AgriMet, the Pacific Northwest Cooperative Agricultural Weather Network, recorded gusts up to 47 mph in Madras, and just over a half inch of precipitation for the week.
   Local insurance companies didn't report a lot of damage claims from the Dec. 7 wind storm, but a handful of cases were noted all around Madras.
   West of Madras, Insurance Mart had clients on Quail Drive who had the roof fly off their carport and a window blown out of their garage.
   A new house off Belmont Lane, being constructed by F & G Development Company, suffered between $3,000 to $4,000 in damage when the wind toppled roof trusses.
   "We had 42-foot trusses that were sticking 18 feet up in the air that blew over and some broke," said builder Frank Morton.
   The gusts, which he estimated were 75 mph, broke some 2x4 and 2x6 boards and snapped "hurricane clips" that were supporting the trusses.
   On J Street, the Madras Property Management office reported a fence had fallen down at one place, while trees fell on electrical wires and a house on S.W. Madison Street.
   North of town in the industrial park, Central Oregon Seeds Inc. lost a piece of roof, and had a warehouse door blown in, but they were able to repair the damage themselves.
   On the east side of town in the Canyon View subdivision, Chris Buller, who lives on Nugget Lane on the ridge of the canyon, said the wind knocked over a 100-pound barbecue grill in his yard.
   Information contributed by Susan Matheny.
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