Crews worked Wednesday to restore heat to homes that were left without heat for days after relentless windstorms ravaged Alaska.
The Matanuska Electric Association posted on Facebook that heavy winds began Saturday and that 22,000 buildings were without electricity on Sunday. The electric association stated that approximately 2,500 buildings still had no power as of Wednesday morning.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared Monday’s storm a state emergency, allowing families to apply in disaster recovery grants. In addition to the windstorms and the heavy snowfall, the cold weather, freezing drizzle and heavy snowfall caused disruptions in water distribution, damaged buildings, and restricted travel.
Crews were delayed in restoring power because the winds — at times reaching hurricane-strength — have persisted for days. As families endured power outages, the wind chill is expected to drop as low as 35 degrees below zero Wednesday, as it did in recent days.
“This could cause dangerous life-threatening conditions for those without power, as frostbite can develop in as little as 15 minutes in these conditions,” the National Weather Service said on Tuesday.
The Matanuska Electric Association, which has been chronicling updates on Facebook, said on Monday that it had been “a very rough evening with one step forward and two steps back at every turn for our crews,” who were removing trees, fixing equipment and restoring lines, but were slowed by the conditions.
“With the wind continuing to cause damage even as they’re making repairs on existing damage, it makes it impossible to give a time frame,” the association said on Monday.
The association stated that more than 12 crews were still at work Tuesday night trying to restore power to customers. Facebook user who posted updates noted that it was 54 degrees at their house as they worked.
The National Weather Service announced that a high wind advisory was in effect for Matanuska Valley. It includes Palmer, Wasilla Sutton, Sutton, and Chickaloon. Winds were expected to hover between 15-30 m.p.h. and gusts of up 45 m.p.h. Forecasters stated that high temperatures were expected between 5 and 5 degrees below freezing in the morning.
The American Red Cross of Alaska opened shelters in Wasilla and Palmer for residents without power, and “will remain open as needed or until the community power is restored,” it said Tuesday on Facebook.
Source: NY Times