COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia — MidAmerican Energy Company said they were prepared for the windstorms Wednesday, but the damage that was done was very widespread.
"If you get tornado damage in one town, it's limited to a pretty narrow area. In this case we had a tornado outbreak, lots of tornadoes and really the whole state was affected by the high wind event. So the result was it affected our equipment in large areas across Iowa," Geoff Greenwood, media relations manager for MidAmerican Energy, said.
At the peak, the energy company had 63,000 customers who experienced outages across their service area. Now, in the Council Bluffs area, much of the power has been restored but a number of power lines are still down and some poles are split.
"If we have a row of power poles that snapped, we have to take every one of those poles out of the ground after we make sure it’s safe and move those overhead lines off the pole. Take the pole out take a new pole in, put the lines up safely and re-energize the system — it simply takes time," Greenwood said.
The process of restoring power, especially after a widespread event, takes a lot of time. The company says they use a pyramid system to prioritize customers.
First, they fix transmission lines that feed power out to a large number of customers. Then, they restore power to buildings such as public services and hospitals. After that, they'll work their way down distribution lines, prioritizing those that affect more people.
Greenwood says MidAmerican is working around the clock to get it finished.
Some customers, like Harley Carberry, said that while it's an inconvenience, he's used to it. Carberry says he's just shocked at how much damage was done after just minutes of the storm moving through.