Omaha extends curbside debris pickups; OPPD suspends nonpayment disconnections
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Public Power District said Tuesday that cleanup and repair crews are moving to individual outages and backyards as crews work to restore power to about 27,000 customers who were still without electricity after Saturday morning’s storm knocked out power to nearly 190,000 customers.
Starting Tuesday, the number of crews that answered calls for mutual aid doubled from 55 to 111, “and they will hit the streets first thing this morning,” the utility said. Repairs and debris cleanup in some places are taking more than 10 hours, “a frustrating situation for customers.”
OPPD started out the day with a goal of 92% restoration before midnight.
As of 6:25 a.m., OPPD had 27,659 customers still without power, including 23,377 in Douglas County and 3,747 in Sarpy County. The utility said its goal was to have 99% restoration before Wednesday. At about 2:15 p.m., OPPD’s outage map was showing 22,848 customers without power, including 19,176 in Douglas County and 3,420 in Sarpy County.
By 8 p.m., OPPD was reporting outage totals were down to 19,000 customers: nearly 14,000 in Douglas County and more than 2,700 in Sarpy County.
OPPD also said Tuesday that it would suspend disconnections for nonpayment through July 26, as M.U.D. has done with its customers.
During a 4 p.m. news conference, OPPD CEO Javier Fernandez said that crews working to restore power to the customers still in the dark — more than 17,000 still in Douglas County and more than 3,000 in Sarpy County — they’re running into two things that are delaying progress. First, some of the fix-it jobs are more complicated than they thought. Second, branches that have been hanging by a thread since Saturday morning, have been coming down.
More than 4,500 customers who had power after the high winds swept through the Omaha-metro have since lost power when those dangling branches finally fell.
“We’re not sacrificing safety to meet our numbers,” Fernandez said. “We’ll slow it down when it needs to be slowed down.”
OPPD officials thought they would be able to have the number of customers without power down to 2,000 by midnight, but later in the day admitted that number would likely be more like 15,000.
Fernandez said so far, there have been no incidents for workers or contractors.
Omaha debris drop-off details
Meanwhile, Omaha officials met Tuesday ahead of the City Council meeting to discuss additional debris removal. According to a release from Mayor Jean Stothert’s office, emergency curbside collection for smaller debris will continue daily through Saturday. City workers are assisting FCC with the pick-ups, which may delay solid waste collections through the week.
Officials say prepaid stickers aren’t required for the week, and the debris can be placed in the brown yard waste bags or in the trash carts used on a typical collection day.
In addition, about 150 parks, maintenance, and sewer personnel will be temporarily reassigned to provide additional curbside debris removal shifts from this Friday through next Friday, July 23. The city is also planning to hire contractors to start mulching debris at Towl Park, located at 156th and F streets.
“This service will follow the same schedule as your weekly solid waste pickup” and may impact or even temporarily suspend other city services, like street repair or maintenance, the release states.
These crews will handle any larger debris stacked at curbs, but the city is asking that you cut larger limbs to a maximum of 6 feet. They will not be able to provide any sort of assistance on the properties beyond the curbside.
Omaha will continue accepting debris from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Friday, July 23, at four drop-off sites: Hefflinger Park, Ta-Ha Zouka Park, Al Veys Field, and Levi Carter Park.
Officials from Council Bluffs also released an update on their trash collections.
Support Omaha Parks Foundation to replace trees
You can help lend a hand in Omaha’s recovery from this historic storm. The Omaha Parks Foundation started a fund to help replant trees throughout Omaha.
Tree replacement costs about $250. However, the foundation says they will accept any amount of donations.
OPPD warns to watch out for scam
With so many people on edge, OPPD is warning all of us to watch out for scams. The utility says scammers often try to take advantage of natural disasters and scam callers may pose as the company, and demand immediate payment of a bill.
The scammers often use spoofing technology, so your caller ID may appear official. OPPD says it’s not currently disconnecting anyone’s power for nonpayment.
If you receive a scam call, hang up, and all OPPD at 402-536-5131.
Watch Tuesday’s news conferences
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