Mayor Jack Smiley and the Altus City Council called a special meeting Monday morning in Council Chambers at the City Complex. The meeting was held to give updates on the power outages.
Mayor Smiley opened the meeting by giving thanks to the City of Altus Electrical Department for working through the night and harsh weather to restore power to parts of the community.
Interim Electrical Superintendent Mike Villarreal spoke first and said, “The Tamarack Substation is currently at 100 percent power. The first substation had lost the 138 line and substation two had lost a pole.” He added that the local water plant was being powered by the City, but not the east and west lagoons.
Will Archer gave an update on Tom Steed Reservoir. He said that at 8:3o a.m. Sunday the PSO electrical provider lost power. “Immediately the search started for a generator,” said Archer. One was found in Tulsa. The generator arrived in Altus at 10 p.m., and was up and running by midnight. Tom Steed was only down for about 20 hours, which was good due to the drastic weather conditions. Although Archer said that there was no need to conserve water, local Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston issued a statement this morning asking residents to conserve water because the electrical was still not stable, and because Tom Steed was still running on a generator.
Gean Young from the Waste Water Plant informed that the west plant was completely down and that the east plant was in normal operations. Young stressed the importance of watching consumption of waste water and electricity. Immediately to lighten the problem, the process of filling up one pump, and allowing flow into the second pump for equalization was performed. Emergency Loaner Pumps were en route to Altus from Yukon arriving by noon. The pump rooms are full and 18 to 20 hours are needed to dry out. The estimated time repair was 48 hours. DEQ was informed. “Their reply was to “contain it, and keep it on your property.” Council asked Young if the City of Altus could be fined for this?” Young said, “The cause of the problem was due to a natural disaster, therefore no fine could be given.”
Gene Leister gave a short brief on Mountain Park. “The water is being treated, and as of Monday morning, all chemicals are working fine.” Leister said that pump station one has a small air lockage in the pump, but not major problems. Daily consumption is at 4 million gallons. “Informing everyone to conserve water is very important,” he added.
Street Commissioner Chad Osborne reported that as of early Monday morning, the main streets of town including Falcon, Main, Broadway, Park Lane and Tamarack were plowed and looking good. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation was said to be a huge help by assisting with man power and materials for the highways. The city side roads were reported to be in bad shape, but crews are working on them next, along with tree pick up. It was noted that no trees are to be placed in alleys. Osborne reiterated that the City of Altus ordinance states that all debris is to be placed in the dumpster, and all wood needs to be cut up and bundled.
Sanitation Department Supervisor Kenny Combs informed that if needed, a fuel tanker was stationed at the landfill. Combs also advised his crew to take extra caution in driving to prevent damage to property. Citizens are asked to have patience with the sanitation department, and that everyone would receive their services as soon as possible.
Colston commended the Salvation Army and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for their hard work. Colston reminded council on the Hazard Mitigation Matching 25% Grant Program, and that the National Guard would be delivering three emergency generators to Altus as soon as possible. Colston stated that FEMA would declare Jackson County a National Disaster and to keep adequate records of your cost, time, and expenditures due to the disaster. He again reminded the public to be extra careful with generators, and carbon monoxide.
According to Altus Fire Chief Kyle Davis there were 21 fire department calls, with only one reporting a structure fire. All calls were weather related. One emergency generator was lost at the substation on Main.
The Altus Police Department reported one vehicle unit was damaged due to a fallen tree. No burglaries were reported at time of the power outages.
Colonel Jones with Altus Air Force Base gave an update that base housing was “very happy” that electricity had been restored. The main base power is still down, but being worked on by their electrical provider. A shelter was opened overnight for base families. The Colonel thanked everyone for their hard work.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol gave a positive report with no problems, and thanked ODOT for their help. OHP reminded drivers to be cautious of the utility companies working in the area.
JCMH said hospital operations were in normal operations with no concerns.
The Salvation Army along with nine volunteers, had provided a warming station and fed 35 meals the day of storm. The regular Soup Kitchen was to be open today.
The meeting ended with Mayor Smiley thanking the City of Altus employees for their awesome commitment and hard work.
Reach Mary O. Esparza at 580-482-1221 ext. 2077