Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Many Savoonga residents are spending New Year’s Eve at the local school, due to power outages that have plagued the St. Lawrence Island community since Monday. At one point, about 80 homes were without electricity, but Meera Kohler, CEO of Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, says linemen have restored about half of those.
Three linemen are working on the power problems, which started when severe winds mixed with severe cold caused above – ground electric lines to slap against each other, causing the initial problem.
She says none of the lines are actually broken, but finding the exact source of the power fault is proving difficult.
She says the situation is unique in her experience with bush power issues. Many Savoonga residents were forced to seek shelter in the school after the power failure caused homes to freeze and pipes to burst. The school generator kept power, and heat, on at the facility. Thursday, the Red Cross shipped emergency food and blankets and other supplies to Savoonga from Anchorage. The local clinic has power.
Kohler says Savoonga has had electricity for about four decades, but the fact that the community is built on rock does not make putting the lines underground feasible.
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