by Pam Zubeck
The Colorado Springs Emergency Operations Center activated today as several City departments, along with Colorado Springs Utilities respond to impacts from high winds in Colorado Springs today.
· The Colorado Springs Fire Department responded to 450 calls for service from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, 90 percent of which were requests for assistance for a variety of wind-related issues ranging from downed trees in the public right of way, damage to buildings and vehicles, electrical concerns, and numerous grass and structure fires.
· As of 4 p.m. today Colorado Springs Utilities is responding to 307 outages, with 8,157 customers affected. Progress is being made as wind conditions slowly improve.
· Several City departments including the Parks Department’s Forestry Division, Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division, Colorado Springs Fire Department and Colorado Springs Utilities continue to respond to a high volume of calls for downed trees throughout the city.
Calls for Downed Trees
· The Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division received 46 storm related calls for service, the majority of which were downed trees in roadway.
· The City’s Forestry Division received approximately 150 calls for service for downed trees, which include downed trees in parks and medians. Please note that some calls for downed trees may overlap across departments.
· Residents can call 24-hours-a-day to 719-385-ROAD or may also use GoCoSprings, the City’s mobile app, to report a downed tree in the public right of way. https://www.coloradosprings.gov/gocosprings. Report a new issue and select “downed tree”. Reports to the mobile application will be processed Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
· For downed trees in a street median or city park call 719-385-5942 (Monday- Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Motorists are advised to stay off the road if possible as there are reports of twisted traffic signal heads that can fall on the roadways. Numerous traffic lights are also experiencing power outages. Darkened intersections should be treated as four-way stops.
Colorado Springs Utilities Update
· As of 4 p.m. today Colorado Springs Utilities is currently responding to 307 outages, with 8,157 customers affected, so progress is being made as wind conditions slowly improve.
· To date, Colorado Springs Utilities has received 150 calls for downed trees impacting power lines and 75 cases for downed electric lines.
· Four restoration crews are currently dispatched and more crews will return to the field tonight as wind conditions continue to improve.
· In addition to Springs Utilities line crews, three contract crews have augmented restoration efforts along with nine tree trimming crews.
· CSU will work through the night to restore power to affected customers, but due to the extent of the damage to utilities infrastructure, the number of outages and wind conditions delaying the ability to make above-ground repairs, more complicated restoration efforts could extend beyond Tuesday.
· Customers are encouraged to check on the status of power outages via our online outage map at www.csu.org.
El Paso County hopes to do an initial assessment of the roof damage and make temporary repairs with the goal of re-opening the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex by 12 Noon Tuesday, January 10, 2017.
Hurricane force winds tore of large sections of the South Tower roof and toppled a communications antenna on the top of the building this morning. The complex was evacuated and the Sheriff’s Office set up a temporary closure of streets and sidewalks surrounding the building to protect drivers and pedestrians from falling and blowing debris.
Courthouse staff should plan for the building to be re-opened at 12 Noon. Jurors should report at 1 PM. All others with scheduled appointments should call (719) 452-5000 for additional scheduling information.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) will resume regular bus service at 3:30 p.m. Earlier today, due to extreme wind conditions, MMT suspended service for three hours at the direction of CDOT regarding high profile commercial vehicles. We will continue to update the media and post the most current information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, #MMTRA, on recorded phone messages and at 385-RIDE (7433).
Mountain Metropolitan Transit provides local fixed-route bus service and Metro Mobility ADA paratransit service for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. All buses are wheelchair-lift equipped. Mountain Metropolitan Transit also provides other services such as Metro Rides’ ridesharing, vanpool, and bicycling programs. For added convenience, there are bike racks on all buses for riders who want to utilize the bike-n-bus program. For additional information regarding Mountain Metropolitan Transit please visit www.mmtransit.com, or call (719) 385-RIDE (7433).
City Response to Downed Trees
· The Forestry Department is responding to a high volume of calls for downed trees throughout the city with downtown and the city’s west side most impacted.
· Residents should report downed trees that are blocking roads to 719-385-ROAD
· To report a fallen tree in street median, parks and parkway strips 719-385-5942
· Residents can also report a fallen tree by using the City’s GoCoSprings app https://www.coloradosprings.gov/gocosprings
Colorado Springs Utilities Update
· As of 11:30 a.m. Colorado Springs Utilities is currently responding to more than 200 reported electric outages in its service territory caused by high winds. Approximately 18,000 customers are being affected by these outages.
· The outages are concentrated in the southern portion of Springs Utilities’ system, which has the highest percentage of overhead lines.
· Most of the outages are being caused by blowing debris, construction materials and metal siding getting into our lines causing circuits to trip.
· Customers should be on the lookout for fallen power lines or trees that have come into contact with a power line. If a customer witnesses either, they should stay away from the line and/or tree, and call us at 448-4800 or call 911.
· To help reduce call volume and expedite emergency-related calls during this wind storm event, Springs Utilities is asking customers to use its online outage map at csu.org (http://stormcenter3.csu.org.s3.amazonaws.com/default.html) for electric outage information and status updates, and to not call 448-4800 unless a customer is reporting a downed electric line, a tree into an electric line, or some other utilities-related emergency that poses a safety risk.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) will suspend bus service temporarily at 12:00 p.m. today due to extreme wind conditions. Drivers will finish their current routes and return to the bus depot and wait out the wind. This is per CDOT’s direction of the safety concern regarding high profile commercial vehicles. We will continue to update the media and post the most current information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, #MMTRA, on recorded phone messages and at 385-RIDE (7433).UPDATE: This just in:
Due to extreme high winds in the area, Colorado Department of Transportation is restricting travel of high profile vehicles in El Paso County. Semi, tractor trailers, commercial buses and all other high profile vehicles aren’t allowed on the roadways in El Paso County at this time.
Wind gusts are estimated at more than 100 miles per hour and it isn’t safe to have these vehicles on the road. El Paso County is under a high wind advisory until 5pm.
Due to extensive roof damage the El Paso County Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex is now being evacuated. County facilities staff is working to mitigate damage but strong gusty winds are making it impossible to do a damage assessment at this time.Mean time, trees are tumbling down all over town.
Preliminary damage reports indicate extensive damage to the south tower roof. El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputies have closed portions of Tejon Street in the area of the building and pedestrians are being asked to avoid the area as roofing materials continue to be torn from the building.
Courts appointments have been canceled today.
The El Paso County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has now been activated to assist in coordinating resources needed to respond to this storm. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.
The El Paso County Office of Emergency Management is reminding everyone to stay away from downed power lines. Ongoing hurricane force winds have broken tree branches, toppled signs, turned over vehicles and pulled down power lines countywide.
Downed power lines can look relatively harmless, but don’t be fooled. They likely carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. Here are some electric energy safety tips can help you stay safe around downed lines:
* If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it.
* The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage one—and it could do that through your body.
* If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 instead.
* Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick. Even normally non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, if slightly wet, can conduct electricity and electrocute you.
* Be careful not to put your feet near water where a downed power line is located.
* Do not drive over downed lines.
* If you are in a vehicle that is in contact with a downed line, stay in the vehicle. Honk your horn for help and tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
* If you must leave your vehicle because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid making contact with the energized vehicle and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the vehicle to the earth.
* Do not touch or attempt to move communications wires that might not normally be electrically charged as the high winds may have brought them into contact high voltage electric lines.