High Winds Cause Extended Power Outage on the Kenai

Residents on the Kenai Peninsula are experiencing an unhappy start to winter weather. A powerful wind storm with gusts estimated at up to 60 miles an hour knocked out power to thousands of peninsula homes and businesses on Tuesday. Joe Gallagher is the public relations coordinator for the Homer Electric Association. He says the wind started blowing hard in the morning and outages started in the afternoon.

“And by Tuesday evening the wind intensified and by 6 pm, suddenly we were really seeing outages across the central peninsula. Talking about the Nikiski area, Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling and through Soldotna and down to Kasilof. At one point we had about 7000 homes and businesses without power on Tuesday evening,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher says the wind died down today and new outages have stopped but he says the clean up and restoration work is significant. He says there are about 100 separate outages with 4,000 homes without power Wednesday.

Gallagher says there was not any rain, icing or even much snow, but the wind knocked numerous trees down and took out power line poles.

“Broke the pole, broke the cross arms on the pole , broke the transformers on the pole. I took a ride down Holt/Lamplight, which is in Nikiski earlier this morning and there was just span after span after span of wire that is down, I saw two broken poles, a number of cross arms were damaged. This is just one road that I’m speaking about. So we have similar situations across the central peninsula that we’re going to have to deal with. So it’s going to be a very time consuming restoration effort,” Gallagher said.

Temperatures are in the 20s and 30s and Gallagher says Peninsula residents should prepare for an extended outage.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori