Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 4
March 28, 2009 – 3:45 p.m.
WINTER STORM IMPACTING STATE
Due to the severe winter weather, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains at Level Two activation, which involves extended operating hours for key personnel. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
The upper system that brought blizzard conditions to parts of Oklahoma is moving east into Arkansas this afternoon. Conditions are improving across the western half of the state. Snowfall will continue in the eastern parts of the state through the late afternoon and evening hours. Snowfall accumulations of 20-25 inches are reported in far northwest Oklahoma.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
A State of Emergency continues for 50 Oklahoma counties affected by the storm, per executive order issued by Gov. Brad Henry on Friday. The executive order marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary. Additionally, the order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions.
INJURIES AND FATALITIES
Since Friday morning, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) has investigated 60 winter storm-related collisions. One was a vehicle-pedestrian fatality and 10 involved injury. A 19-year old Moore man died Friday night after he was struck by a passing vehicle when the car he was a passenger in was involved in a collision and he ran across the roadway. The collision occurred on I-40 westbound at US-81.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 223 people were treated at hospitals and other medical care facilities for injuries due to the storm. Except for one broken arm, all others were minor slips and falls.
Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives reports about 1,250 Northwestern Electric customers in Beaver, Woodward and Harper counties are without power where snowdrifts continue to present access issues for restoration crews. Additionally, about 1,200 Kay Electric Cooperative customers in Kay and Grant counties are without service.
OG&E reports 1,400 customers without power including those in Nardin, Keifer and Sapulpa.
Local officials are operating a shelter at Hardesty Baptist Church primarily for motorists left stranded by road conditions.
The American Red Cross continues to monitor the needs of the communities impacted along with local officials, city and county Emergency Management and Department of Public Safety officials. Volunteers and resources are in place in every affected area in the event shelters are needed.
Sheltering in Guymon and Boise City has been returned to standby status. Mobile shelter trailers have been stationed at the Medford Fire Department but remain on standby in case of power outages. For inquiries on shelter status, please call Kyla Campbell at 405-202-0010.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has advised health care providers in areas impacted by the winter storm to monitor their vaccine storage locations for power outages that could impact the efficacy of the vaccine. Providers can monitor their power company's Web page online or call the company directly. If providers do not have emergency power capabilities, they may need to move their vaccine to locations that do, such as hospitals.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) crews continue to monitor conditions, clear and treat roadways and bridges in winter storm areas across the state around the clock as needed.
The heavy snowfall rendered many roads impassable in the panhandle and far northwest portion of the state. Roads in Cimarron County are now opened. Motorists are warned that the roads remain snow packed, but the main drifts have been removed. Caution is advised.
Additional ODOT crews, drawn from various areas of the state, were deployed this morning to the northwest part of the state to clear roadways with the use of loaders and graders, versus plows, which ordinarily are used to clear roads of snow. These "drift and snow removal" crews are traveling as 10-member teams in convoys consisting of seven vehicles, remaining together at all times. They have enough provisions, including fuel and food, to last at least four days. Six such units have been deployed.
The Texas Department of Transportation has reopened I-40 from the Oklahoma state line to New Mexico. Although conditions on I-40 to the west of Oklahoma City seem to be improving, the roadway still is slick in spots and may contain occasional drifts, especially toward the far western part of the state, and drivers should exercise extreme caution if travel in that area is necessary. As always, during snow and ice conditions, motorists are reminded to stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
To check current road conditions call the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s ROAD CONDITIONS HOTLINE 888-425-2385. For out of state road conditions: Texas 800-452-9292 and New Mexico 800-432-4269.
OEM has secured FEMA industrial-size generators which are available for shelters and to provide power to water treatment facilities in the event of electric service disruptions. Already state generators were pre-staged in the panhandle.
Harper County Emergency Management reports the roof of a nursing home in Buffalo has sustained partial collapse. Local firefighters, law enforcement and other first responders assisted in moving patients to the Buffalo hospital next door. No injuries reported. The roofs of one home, two businesses, and the Ft. Supply School gym have also collapsed. No injuries.
Woodward-Woodward County Emergency Management reports the roof of a furniture warehouse, a large free-span building in Woodward, has had a partial roof collapse. No injuries reported at this time.