What will be remembered as the “Great Ice Storm of 2007” impacted a major portion of the country, cutting a swath from the Rio Grande Valley all the way to New England. Starting on Jan. 12, it let up on January 16, and then was followed by a second wave from the 16th through the 18th.
Nationwide the storm resulted in at least 85 deaths in 12 states, 32 in Oklahoma, and caused hundreds of thousands of residents along the great storm’s path to lose electrical power.
In Oklahoma, McAlester, Muskogee and the extreme northeastern corner of the state, including neighboring Mayes County, seem to have been hardest hit, virtually marooning citizens in their homes without power, water, and in many cases, the ability to go for help.
The tragic death of 15-year-old Cheyanne Lorraine Carter was directly attributed to the fast moving storm.
But as thousands of eastern Oklahomans huddled in their homes waiting for the disastrous storm to come to an end, Claremore and most of Rogers County was spared from the real miseries suffered by so many of our fellow Oklahomans.
True, the city was covered with a blanket of ice, limiting movement to only the most vitally necessary — but we had but one power outage affecting about 30 homes for just a couple of hours. Inside the city limits there were only minor traffic mishaps.
Give a lot of credit to city management’s immediate implementation of recently adopted contingency plans for just such emergencies. City workers were on the job even as the icy rain was falling on Friday, and when citizens woke up on the morning of Jan. 13, major traffic routes had already been covered with buckshot.
The Infrastructure Management Department, led by Daryl Golbek, Danny Wilson, and Rick Nero, administered the snow and ice control plan. Department workers began 24-hour shifts beginning Jan. 12, and stayed with this schedule for eight grueling days.
During that time they covered city streets with 1,800 tons of buckshot (a special limestone screening material) and an additional 13.5 tons of salt. Main arterial streets were attacked first, but eventually nearly 100 percent of city streets were made passable for careful drivers.
Earlier this week as temperatures began to rise these same crews were back at work filling pot holes caused by the ice and sweeping up the mess left by the tons of mix spread on the streets.
With other communities all over the state still suffering significant electrical outages, city residents would do well to remember that they had heat and water throughout the storm.
That is due in large part to a farsighted program to trim trees initiated by a conversation Grand River Dam Authority had with city government several months ago. That meeting between GRDA’s CEO Kevin Easley and the leaders of Claremore’s city government may have saved Claremore from all of the problems associated with the recent ice storm.
While it is often difficult to watch a tree be trimmed, it is more unpleasant to sit in a dark cold home or have to evacuate as thousands of other Oklahomans have done.
The tree trimming program coupled with the hard work of Claremore Electric employees paid off. GRDA, city leaders and the electrical workers all deserve a pat on the back for their efforts in keeping the lights on.
It’s true some streets were not as clear as some would have liked them to be, but taking into consideration the storm’s massive size and intensity, Claremore came through it almost unscathed.
For that, our hats are off to all the devoted city employees for their undaunted hard work and city leadership.