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Power outage planned in Wimer area Thursday

file photo
Pacific Power crews will replace a damaged power pole

While Pacific Power has delayed all nonessential repairs during sweltering triple-digit heat, officials for the company said there was no avoiding a planned service interruption for a big chunk of Thursday.

Residents of the area around Queens Branch Road and West Evans Creek Road were notified Monday about a planned power outage that is expected to last from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

With record-breaking heat already forcing residents to find creative ways to stay cool, the announcement prompted concerns about medical issues for residents and added stress for livestock and pets.

In addition to the loss of air conditioning and fans, the rural area has no municipal water supply and is reliant on wells, meaning loss of water if pumps can’t stay running.

Pacific Power officials said replacement of a pole in the 6300 block of West Evans Creek Road was essential to the continued service and safety of the 672 residents affected.

“While we are postponing some planned interruptions due to the weather, the largest one in this area, about 670 customers, is also the most essential to complete,” said Tom Gauntt, media spokesman for Pacific Power.

“There is a broken pole on this circuit, and it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. It is unclear whether it was caused by a vehicle accident or a previous storm, but it poses a danger to the public that can only be eliminated by replacement.”

Residents said they favored performing the work due to safety concerns, but some said they wished that crews could have worked earlier in the day. Wimer resident Gayle Westlake said she was worried for her menagerie of rescue animals, some with special needs, should she be unable to provide cold water.

Westlake said her own property was the subject of three planned outages, rather than one, in coming weeks. A silver lining, the first of three outages (on Tuesday) was shorter than expected.

“I have critical animals here and I can’t be without water and ways to cool them down, let alone the fact I just bought 70 pounds of chicken hindquarters for the wolves. I can’t afford to lose that when my fridge goes down,” she said.

“All we can do is hope that they’re able to get their work done as quickly as possible. It’s too bad they can’t work earlier in the day, before it gets so hot.”

Shaena Peebles, a former resident who works in Rogue River, was worried for friends and family in the affected area.

“There’s no reason they can’t get out there during higher humidity times when there’s less fire hazard,” she said.

“Pacific Power said that they’ll only listen to people with medical emergencies, but not having water and having your livestock and livelihood die from lack of water constitutes to me a medical emergency.”

Gauntt said two crews would be dedicated to the pole replacement.

Mary Wills, a Queens Branch Road resident, said her 93-year-old mother would have to spend the day elsewhere if unable to find a generator and a portable air conditioner before Thursday. Wills’ mother became ill earlier this week when a heat pump had to be repaired on the family’s home.

“We tried to find a hotel room for (Thursday) but no luck with an upcoming holiday weekend,” she said.

“We’ve decided that what we’re going to do is when it gets too hot that we can’t handle it, we’re going to pile in the car, crank the A/C and go for a ride.”

Pacific Power officials advised residents to unplug any sensitive equipment during the interruption. For more information, or details on planned outages, see pacificpower.net/outages-safety.html or call 877-508-5088.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.