Thoughts on wind storm damage & community
What a week! As we were reviewing power grid maps on the hood of a truck last Saturday afternoon, a 46 year DP&L veteran told me that the Sept. 14 wind storm resulted in the most widespread electrical system damage he has ever seen. He has worked for DP&L since 1962!
Needless to say, I spent the better part of the last ten days dealing with many issues relating to the storm recovery. Here are a few thoughts and observations…
Second, I could not be more proud to live and serve in Oakwood. Throughout this ordeal, our citizens and business owners were remarkably patient, understanding and hardworking. Between myself, the two DP&L engineers/supervisors with primary responsibility in Oakwood, and the 40-60 workers that have had a hand in restoring power to our city, we spoke to several hundred Oakwood citizens and business owners. With very few exceptions, those conversations were positive – they reflected precisely the cooperative spirit and constructive tone that is absolutely essential when faced with a challenge of this magnitude.
Our citizens completed an enormous amount of tree and branch clearing on their own and helped one another in all areas of the city. I heard citizens comment about how this storm brought neighborhoods together and provided an opportunity for neighbors to get to know one another much better than they had previously.
Your city staff served you well. It all began around 2 p.m. that Sunday when Public Safety Dispatcher Jim Waitzman became inundated with emergency calls. For about four hours, Jim and several other public safety officials took your calls and gathered the information we needed to address the most critical needs and to begin preparing a plan on how best to work the problem. I watched these folks in action and commend their performance.
Our public safety officers were quick to “do their jobs”. They covered the community providing swift response to the highest storm response priorities and also continued to do their regular police, fire and emergency medical work.
By about 3 p.m. on Sunday, we already had a sense of the scope of the event and began calling in our public works employees. These folks have responded to many storm events before, but none as big as this one. As always, though, they jumped in to action. Knowing that the regular weekly household trash would begin including a great deal of spoiled food items, we recognized the importance of staying on our regular collection schedule, even on that first Monday with the enormous pressure to address fallen trees and large limbs.
Our community center staff quickly addressed immediate needs in our parks and natural areas – trees on public lands and in the public rights of way – and assisted our public works staff in the cleanup. They also welcomed residents needing to grab a warm shower at the OCC and helped spread information and assist citizens where needed.
Our office staff spoke with hundreds of citizens assuring them that DP&L was aware of our outages and was responding. This was perhaps the toughest job since the level of frustration is often most vividly expressed with the first person you reach. Where do we go from here? First, we continue working aggressively with DP&L until every single power service is restored. If your power is still out, please verify that it is reported to DP&L and also inform us by calling 298-0600 during the day and 298-2122 after hours. We will help DP&L ensure that no one is missed. We will not stop this continuous effort until we reach 100 percent.
Concurrently, we continue cleaning the city. Our public works crews will work 12-hour days again all this week, as they did last week, and a full crew will work all day this Saturday. Over the ensuing weeks, we will keep committing a majority of our workforce to the clean-up effort.
Finally, we will conduct a thorough after action review. This will include detailed discussions on what went well, what we could have done better, and what we can do to enhance our preparation for any such future event. We will also participate with DP&L in their after action review. This will include discussions on how better to communicate and share updated response information.
In closing, I again thank you, our Oakwood citizens and business owners for the wonderful way in which you are enduring this difficult time.
Norbert S. Klopsch
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