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Working to restore power
Caney Fork lineman
A Caney Fork lineman works Monday to restore power in DeKalb County. Photo courtesy Caney Fork.

About 100 Caney Fork Electric customers in Warren County were without power Monday, a small sampling compared to surrounding counties which were hammered by ice and suffered significant outages.

“We have about 75% of our customers in DeKalb County without power right now,” Caney Fork general manager Bill Rogers said Monday afternoon. Earlier in the day, Van Buren County had been hit especially hard, but Rogers said all power had been restored to Van Buren County residents by Monday evening.

“We have had scattered outages all over the since about 6:30 a.m.” said Rogers referring to the issues on Monday. “Van Buren County had been the worst area. For Warren County so far, we have had five outages affecting about 100 members. We have had some lines down and trees into lines from the weather.”

The winter weather, felt across the U.S., knocked out power for more than 2 million people in Texas on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Several U.S. cities saw record lows. In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm weather station registered minus 38 degrees, while Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dropped to minus 26.

Power outages are a common companion to winter weather, particularly when ice and freezing rain are involved. John Chisam of Caney Fork Electric advises homeowners to prepare for outages during inclement weather.

“The ice freezes to the lines and the heavier it gets, the higher likelihood the line can break which causes the power to go out,” Chisam explained.

Last week, a burned wire is being blamed for the power outage affecting approximately 4,000 McMinnville Electric System customers Thursday afternoon.

“We found a high-voltage wire burned in two at the East McMinnville substation,” said MES general manager and CEO Rodney Boyd, “The wire was in a junction cabinet and we still do not know what caused it to burn in two.”

A loose connection is thought to be responsible for the lapse in power but the definitive cause is still under investigation. MES had electricity returned to customers in about 10 minutes.

When it comes to losing power, Chisam offers valuable advice for how to manage and prepare for electrical outages.

Things you can do to prepare for an outage:

1.       Prepare flashlights with fresh batteries.

2.       Use a battery-operated radio to hear weather alerts in your area.

3.       Keep your phone charged by using a car charger.

4.       Don’t open the refrigerator during an outage to preserve temperature longer.

5.       Add layers of clothing to preserve body heat during extended outages.

A previously common item kept around for power outages by many and one that didn’t make his list is a candle.

“We don’t suggest candles as you can fall asleep with it still burning,” said Chisam. Flashlights offer a safer alternative to lighting the way in the event electricity is lost, he said.

“If you have medical equipment that relies on electricity, it is recommended to keep some kind of backup generator to keep your equipment running long-term,” Chisam added. “We advise having electricians set these up instead of doing it yourself.”