IOWA DERECHO 2020

15,000 without power in Linn County Thursday night

As of Thursday afternoon, city crews had restored 163 of 191 traffic signals in Cedar Rapids.

Volunteers load batteries into flashlights at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. World Central
Volunteers load batteries into flashlights at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit disaster food aid organization, procured two thousand flashlights after a request from Rep. Abby Finkenauer. WCK will distribute them as part of their mission in the Cedar Rapids area as approximately 20 percent of Alliant customers were without power Tuesday evening. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Over 15,000 Alliant Energy customers in Linn County still were without power heading into Thursday night.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, 15,907 of Alliant’s 97,603 Linn County customers and 86 of its 9,827 Johnson County customers still were without power.

The utility, which has crews from across the country and Canada, has enough workers on the ground to restore power to those who remain in the dark, Alliant Energy Vice President of Business Development Joel Schmidt said during the Thursday news conference.

He said additional crews wouldn’t make restoration quicker, but would cause congestion.

As of 6 a.m. Thursday, he said, power had been restored to around 83 percent of Linn County customers affected by the derecho last week. Within Cedar Rapids, 77 percent of customers had power, leaving around 23 percent without.

Thursday morning in Cedar Rapids, 33 percent of outages were in the northwest part of the city, 29 percent were in the southeast portion, 26 percent in the southwest and 12 percent in the northeast.

Throughout the process of restoring power, Schmidt said crews worked first to restore transmission capability, then to the substations and circuits and then moved to restore power to the greatest number of customers possible. Now, crews are working through a variety of complex, smaller outages, he said.

Crews have been working through small blocks of customers at a time and are encountering a variety of situations.

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“Really, it’s the massive destruction and magnitude of this storm,” Schmidt said. In some areas, the issues remain: transformers, various wires tangled together, issues with fencing — and every situation is unique, he said.

Crews also are working to restore internet services, which must be done after power crews complete their work.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, about 55 percent of ImOn Communications for storm-affected customers had been restored, spokeswoman Lisa Rhatigan said.

In a Wednesday evening update, about 50 percent of Cedar Rapids area Mediacom customers were offline, a release said.

City crews also have been working on restoring traffic lights around Cedar Rapids. Crews, including some from Cedar Falls, Dubuque and other communities, continued to help street crews restore traffic signals.

As of Thursday afternoon, 163 of 191 traffic signals had been re-energized and had basic functionality, Public Works Director Jen Winter said. Crews expect to have all signals back on by Saturday.

Meanwhile, crews also have been replacing damaged signs in as many places as possible.

Additionally, the city has made a first pass of debris removal through 14 percent of routes, and 53 percent of the routes are prepped for debris cleanup, Winter said. Crews are working on getting the remaining 33 percent ready for removal, she said.

Comments: (319) 398-8255; gage.miskimen@thegazette.com

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