OPPD makes numerous changes to response after July 2021 storms

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Potential severe weather is on the way for the rest of this week.

But does that mean we need to be worried about power outages and flash flooding like we saw last year during storm season?

Heavy rain and brutal winds in the metro last summer knocked out power to thousands of people, some were left in the dark for days.

Since then leaders at OPPD say they’ve been taking a deep look at what can be done to prevent outages like that.

“The past year for us here we look at all the lessons learned from that event and we’ve been looking at the processes we use, how we call out people, how we track things,” said Lee O’Neal, OPPD director of T&D construction.

One of the biggest issues is trees.

“As you know, Omaha has a very nice urban forest. It’s also getting pretty old. There are trees that are over 100 years old and as we saw last year some of those trees were blown down in the storm. They reached the end of their lives and were more susceptible to high winds,” said John Buckley, OPPD Director of Work Management.

So this year OPPD is spending more money than ever to trim trees.

They set aside more than $14 million to keep powerlines clear. More than 150 contracted workers in 13 counties are helping to do that daily.

But some of the biggest changes to OPPD this year started from within.

“Our own employees turned in a little over 500 ideas for us to look at so we’ve had a team look through those and from that we’ve made small changes, big changes, and everything in between,” said O’Neal.

Now crews will be called out ahead of a storm instead of after, ready to respond to outages immediately.

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