Water and Light releases July 7th storm report

Columbia Water and Light has the damage report from the July 7 storm.  The winds that blew through after the July 4 weekend, cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

The storm that tore through Columbia-blew through with 80 mph winds.  It uprooted trees, snapped electrical lines and utility poles, and cut power to more than 14,000 people.  Columbia Water and Light now have the costs of restoring power after the destructive storm. 

"We had line workers climbing over into ravines.  Couldn't take the truck back there or any tools.  Climbing over debris piles that were at least 6 foot tall and least 6 foot wide if not wider than that.  So, a lot the restoration work had to be done by hand," said Connie Kacprowicz, utility services specialist for Columbia Water and Light.  

The city manager declared an emergency situation in the aftermath, and for the first time in more than 30 years, multiple crews from outside areas came into Columbia to help.   The July 7 wind storm costs break down as follows:  

Personnel: $281,075

Inventory Materials: $68, 208

Transformers: $20, 707

Mutual Aid Contract: $141, 679

City Contractors: $235, 898

Total: $747,567  

City officials said the money to pay these bills comes from the utility's reserve fund. 

"Whenever we do have to dip into that reserve amount, we do have to replenish it because  w e like to keep it at a certain level.  So, it is an impact on the electric utility and the rate payers as far as where the money is going.  But I think all and all for the damage that we saw.  This is a lot less expensive than some of us were thinking," said Kacprowicz. 

The power restoration took 137 personnel who worked 16-hour days.  Officials said most of the power was restored in two days.  Some people had to wait about five days for power restoration because the storm ripped the power lines from their home.  

City officials said people should rest assured that Columbia Water and Light are prepared and have budgeted, just in case Mother Nature decides to hit again this winter.  "That's part of our planning that we have to do-is not only prepare for contingencies of one thing happens in a year, but maybe two things happen in a year," said Kacprowicz. 

Officials said that the electrical crews who where in Columbia after the storm worked through extremely dangerous conditions.  They said safety is most important and are happy to report there were no injuries during the storm cleanup.  

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