Oklahoma Prioritizing Polling Places During Statewide Effort To Restore Power


Thursday, October 29th 2020, 9:57 pm
By: Barry Mangold


As the state’s largest power utility works to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands, state officials said ensuring polling places have power is a top priority. 

More than 220,000 OG&E customers, which include homes and businesses, did not have power as of Thursday evening. 

During a press conference with Gov. Kevin Stitt, OG&E CEO and President Sean Trauschke said areas surrounding Oklahoma County will likely have power back by Thursday night or Friday, while parts of Oklahoma City may be waiting until late next week. 

“This is probably the most severe storm we’ve had on our system,” Trauschke said.

He said the company is donating to the United Way to assist with warming centers and overnight shelters.

“It could be the latter part of next week until the very last customer gets online,” Trauschke said. 

Mark Gower, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said they will respond to outages at election locations as, “a critical emergency. We’re supplying it with critical infrastructure, support services, and generators.” 

The state is also asking utility companies to prioritize restoring power to polling places, Gower added. 

Oklahoma is preparing a request for a presidential disaster declaration, which, if granted, would welcome additional federal reimbursement and assistance. 

As part of the request, individuals are asked to report home damage that is uninsured online at damage.ok.gov. 

Craig Freeman, the City Manager for Oklahoma City, said they are working on contracting companies to help pick up tree limbs and other debris left by the storm. 

The effort could cost the city more than $7 million. Freeman said that estimate is based on the 2007 ice storm, which left behind about 100,000 tons of debris. 

“We’re expecting this to be something similar to that,” Freeman said. 

The city will make at least two passes to pick up debris once contracts are secured, which could take weeks or months. Freeman said that gives citizens ample time to collect any debris on their property and pile it curbside. 

“It’s going to take some time; we need your patience. You’re going to be tired of looking at the storm debris before it gets picked up,” he said.