Storms Cost Dept. $50K

ST. MARYS — Wind storms that toppled trees, downed power lines and caused widespread damage across the region cost the city of St. Marys’ electrical department more than $50,000.

During an electric/communications committee meeting Wednesday night, Mike Dieringer presented committee members with a tally of costs associated with the June 29 and July 1 storms. Dieringer said the majority of that cost was linked to the June 29 storm.

“The Friday one, we were out about 14 hours trying to get everything back up,” Dieringer said. “We got most people back up relatively quick. Unfortunately out in Rolling Hills, there were six poles out behind the sewage plant that were snapped off at the ground. We were able to put two new poles in late that night.”

Dieringer said crews worked to restore power to areas that required the least work first and then worked to the more complex problems. Among the most time consuming repairs were setting new power poles and walking the power lines.

“On a storm, it takes the longest to run the lines to make sure there’s nothing on the lines before you re-energize it,” Dieringer said. “Because if you re-energize and something is still on the lines, it will come back on and then kick off. Everything went pretty smooth.”

Costs associated with the storm totaled $50,655.53. That figured included $12,663.98 in labor, $14,732.13 in materials and $23,259.42 in equipment costs.

Mayor Pat McGowan commended the city crews for their rapid response during the storm’s aftermath.

“You guys did an excellent job,” McGowan said. “In as many hours as you worked, the longer you go, the more mistakes you can make and someone could get hurt. But no one got hurt. That’s great.”

McGowan said during the storm, residents flooded the police department with phone calls inquiring about the power outages. Such calls could hinder response times.

“That very phone call is a problem in itself,” McGowan said.

“I sat up there on Sunday night and answered phones because the police dispatcher was just getting covered with people calling in. They are going to know when the power comes back on when they see the lights come on ... That really jams up emergency lines.”