News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 6, 2014

Arctic Blast 2014: Duke Energy calls in extra manpower

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Duke Energy called in extra manpower Monday to restore power to homes and businesses after snow and wind downed service lines.

Power company crews were dealing with bitter cold temps as they worked to restore the electricity, said Rick Burger, district manager.

“We brought in 58 additional crews,” Burger said Monday. “A crew can be two to three people so we will have an army of people out. … These are our employees and contractors, specifically Pike Company, a large contractor that we have brought in, which works for us all over our system.”

Temperatures hovered around minus 9 degrees as crews worked to restore electrical service.

Burger said Duke Energy had a peak power outage that affected about 3,500 customers in the Terre Haute area since early evening Sunday. As of midafternoon Monday, there were still 1,033 Duke Energy customers without power. Vigo County accounted for the largest number of remaining power outages; Clay County totaled 206.

“We hope to have all power restored in the Terre Haute area by noon [today] and hopefully before that,” Burger said. “We work the high numbers first, areas with the most outages, and we are now down to the smaller areas, where one to three homes have no power.

“Those sometimes can take longer. We have hired snow removal to help push us through the snow and tree trimmers to help us get to lines. Even though our trucks use chains, our trucks are having difficulties getting into some places [for repairs].  

“We have power lines down, but very few broken poles. Our linemen are working hard. They are taking extra precautions in this weather, using the buddy system and watching out for each other,” Burger said.

WIN Energy REMC crews also worked to restore power, which at its peak had about 2,500 people without electrical service Sunday evening. As of 4 p.m. Monday, about 900 of those customers, in Vigo, Sullivan and Posey counties, were still without power, said Leslie Beard, spokeswoman for WIN Energy. Those customers were expected to have electricity by this evening.

In Illinois, crews for Ameren Illinois worked to restore power to the town of Casey. The entire municipality lost power Sunday. Casey’s backup power generators kicked in; however, they failed within a few hours, said Susie Mathews, secretary for the city’s utility department.

Residents in the city of 3,000 people were encouraged to seek shelter in warming centers. Two churches — a Baptist church at East Alabama and North Central streets in Casey, and a Methodist Church along Illinois 49 — each with their own power generators, were converted to warming centers.

“The churches also have a food supply to serve meals and the police department has been giving people rides there,” said Mark Jenkins, Casey police chief.

Marcelyn Love, spokeswoman for Ameren, said high winds knocked down some crossarms on power lines, causing the power outage. Power was to be restored to Casey by late Monday afternoon, Love said.

Helicopters were used to discover the cause of the power outage for Casey and other areas.

“We are surveying with helicopters due to the high drifts of snow and whiteout conditions. We are taking every measure possible to ensure that our personnel and customers are safe and that we can get service restored as quickly as possible,’ Love said Monday afternoon.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or