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12:30 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Sagging power lines complicate repair efforts for Boone County Electric

A falling tree in Benton Stephens nearly knocks over nearby power lines
Credit Scott Pham / KBIA

  Many Boone County homes are still without power due to outages in the Boone Electric Cooperative grid.

As of 11:56 a.m., Boone Electric reported 446 separate outages, leaving about 5,000 people potentially without electricity. Supplementary crews, including workers from Consolidated Electric Cooperative and Columbia Water and Light have offered assistance in getting homes back online. About 12 three-person crews are currently working throughout the county.

Boone Electric says that if your electricity is out, it's important to call in.

"Because we may think it's on," says Boone Electric member services manager Chris Rohlfing. "But you still have another problem that’s keeping your lights from being on."

Boone Electric says that without phone calls, they could miss problems in individual homes where something other than the breaker is malfunctioning.

Rohlfing says the primary cause of most outages since Tuesday has been heavy snow and ice accumulation on the power lines. The weight of the precipitation has caused many lines to sag into each other, causing a "dead short".

Sometimes, untangling lines have caused other wires to be burned and severed. In these cases, a three-person crew has to be lifted with a bucket truck to reconnect and reenergize each individual power line. That makes the process even more difficult.

“The problem is you might get done with it, and two miles up the road the same thing happens again.” Rohlfing says.

Boone Electric plans on focusing most of its efforts on the most populous areas of the county that have been affected, especially south and east of Columbia.