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Storm Causes Power Outages, Tree Damage In Oklahoma

December 7, 2013

By The Tulsa World

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An ice storm in southeastern Oklahoma left large trees snapped and thousands of people without power, possibly for multiple days.

The Hugo and Antlers areas have sustained "severe damage," and "they are still having tree branches breaking and falling, American Electric Power-Public Service Company spokesman Stan Whiteford said.

"They`ve got a major ice storm event. It`s a dangerous situation. It`s dangerous just to be walking under trees there," he said.

AEP-PSC of Oklahoma outages in the Hugo-Antlers area peaked at approximately 5,800 customers on Friday, the utility company reported.

"We`re anticipating a multiday outage event," Whiteford said.

In Hugo, the weight of ice on branches sent trees crashing to the ground in neighborhoods.

"All of a sudden you hear the creaking (of the trees) first," said Hugo resident Dawn Wood. "And then it gets louder and louder, and you just close your eyes and hunch your shoulders and think, `God, I hope it`s not us. I hope it doesn`t get the house. I hope it doesn`t hit the gazebo in the back.`

"It`s like a shotgun going off when it hits."

Wood said a limb fell on her home but that there was not significant damage.

She and her husband tried to leave their neighborhood, which was a challenge because so many trees are down.

"You have to weave your way around street to street to see if you can get through one of them," said Wood, whose home still had power.

"This is devastating down here. We have lost huge trees."

OG&E had about 12,000 customers without power for a while early Friday. By Friday evening, the numbers had been whittled to just more than 300 customers still without power in LeFlore County on Friday evening, with no other large outages in Oklahoma, while Fort Smith, Ark., just across the state line, still had more than 2,600 outages.

The Oklahoma Forestry Division and the Oklahoma National Guard sent teams to move fallen trees out of roadways, and Baptist Disaster Relief is sending teams to help with timber debris, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported.

A warming shelter was opened at the Choctaw Community Center in Hugo and was being operated by the Choctaw Nation and supported by the American Red Cross. Baptist Disaster Relief was assisting with meals in the town.

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Copyright Tulsa World (OK) 2013

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Story image: Frozen branches in Spiro, Okla., courtesy of Brittany Barnes and the National Weather Service, Tulsa, Okla.

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