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Thousands still without power as Salt Lake Valley repairs continue

Posted at 9:30 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-30 17:30:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Rocky Mountain Power is asking families to prepare to be without power overnight as thousands of homes remain without services following a heavy spring snowstorm.

The heavy and wet spring snowstorm Thursday night broke branches and downed power lines, initially leaving more than 18,000 residents throughout the east side of the Salt Lake Valley without power.

Bert and Kate Bunnell live in Emigration Canyon; they comprise just one of the 18,000 households.

“This is probably one of the longer power outages that we’ve had,” said Bunnell as he sat next to large glass sliding doors that let the sunlight in.

With candles lit and gas stovetop burners blazing, the couple spent their day in the dark.

“We had all four [burners] going there for a while,” Bunnell said. “That’s the big deal up here, is it gets pretty cold in the winter. When we lose power we lose heat, we also lose water.”

Their power has been out since about 4 o’clock Friday morning.

“Of course one flip of a light switch and you know [power] is gone,” Bunnell said.

They didn’t hear from their service provider, Rocky Mountain Power, until much later.

“We got a text from Rocky Mountain Power telling us our power was out… duh,” Bunnell laughed.

The Bunnell’s home is just one of more than 18,000 that were initially impacted by more than 900 outages spanning across the east side of the Salt Lake valley.

“It’s localized, it’s widespread,” said Tiffany Erickson with Rocky Mountain Power in reference to the outage area.

“So the challenge is we have a number of problems to fix,” she said. “Instead of fixing one problem and restoring power to a thousand people, we have over 900 problems to fix restoring power to a handful of people here and there.”

Rocky Mountain Power said they have more than 110 crew members from across the state and Idaho on the ground, working as quickly as possible to restore power.

“There’s physical challenges just to get to the problem and then there’s fixing them and moving onto the next one,” said Tiffany Erickson with Rocky Mountain Power.

The mess from the storm is making it that much harder to get the job done.

“We’ve got crews trying to figure out how to get into the backyard and then get up the pole because we’ve got growth around [trees] so they have to clear the area,” Erickson said. “We’ve got tree crews who are with us too, trying to clear these broken branches.”

Other crew members are navigating traffic, closing lanes of various roads intermittently to allow others on the ground and in cherry pickers to do their jobs safely.

And while some people, like the Bunnell’s, are expecting their power to come back on shortly, not everyone will be so lucky.

“We’re going to have people working throughout the night,” Erickson said. “There are folks that are probably not going to have their power back on until tomorrow.”

Rocky Mountain Power advises all of those who are still without power to be prepared for a night without power by having blankets and water on hand.

The company said they rely on residents’ reports to know where outages are. Reports can be made online and via call/text. Residents can also receive message updates directly to their cellphones regarding the status of their power by texting ‘STAT’ to 759677.