Neighborhood experiences power outage nightmare

Posted at 10:38 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 23:38:24-04

Tuesday’s storm left thousands in the Omaha metro without power and storm damage debris.

Residents at the Garden Valley Trailer Court near 16th and Ellison said the storm felt a tornado swept through their trailer park.

“It felt like we were in the middle of a tornado. I mean, the 90 miles per hour winds shook the trailer so much, we thought were going to have to go to a storm shelter,” says Ken Fleck, who lives in the neighborhood with his brother.

The excessive strong winds knocked down trees, branches, and power lines – leaving the entire trailer park without power.

"The main line that runs all the way through the court is sitting on the ground and over the tops of trailers instead of people having power,” says Annie Fitzgerald, the caretaker’s wife. “It’s torn off on one end and it’s down on the ground on the other end.”

Fitzgerald says she and neighbors called the Omaha Public Power District several times since midnight, urging the company to send crews immediately. Residents say they were told it would be about a week before power would be restored.

"They can't do anything until next Thursday. I said what? That's unacceptable. So I started making phone calls,” says Fitzgerald.

Mike Jones, a spokesperson for OPPD says their crews were out all night and day, and were expected to be out again Wednesday night through Thursday evening.

“To repair all of that work, is very time consuming, especially when it comes to the trees because you have to remove the trees before you can actually do the restoration work,” says Jones.

Jones says OPPD’s expectations and plans are to have service restored by the end of the day Thursday.

“For the trailer park, obviously as I understand, it suffered some additional damage and that is something that the owners of the trailer park are going to have to look at and may have to call some electricians. If so, that could lengthen the amount of outage for residents of that particular park,” says Jones.

OPPD restored the power outage for some trailers in the park Wednesday evening; the rest should be restored by the end of the day Thursday.

But some neighbors say the neighborhood suffered from a lot of storm damage and should have been of higher concern for OPPD.

"It's very low inome, people here - it's their last place to live. This is where you go just before you end up in the Open Door Mission or the St. Francis house. And so they don't have anything to fall back on,” says Myrna Legate.

Legate says many elderly people live in her neighborhood and need electricity to power their oxygen machine.  She says she doesn’t think her neighbors wouldn't survive another week without power.

"The idea of losing every bit of groceries they had or the idea of not being able to run a fan for some of them, or breathing machines, it's terrifying."