Idaho Power crews worked through the night to restore power to thousands of Treasure Valley residents who lost electricity during a massive summer storm and continue to make repairs Tuesday. Service had been restored to 45,000 of 52,000 customers that lost power in eastern Oregon and Southwest Idaho by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
But 7,000 are still without power, including about 5,400 in the Treasure Valley. The affected areas are spread across Ada, Canyon, and Boise counties. Winds knocked down hundreds of power poles.
Some Idaho Power work crew members who worked overnight had to take mandatory rest Tuesday afternoon, but those crews were expected to be back on the job by Tuesday night, and officials hope they can make significant progress to restore power for those who have gone almost an entire day without it.
Heavily damaged areas included McCall to Garden Valley, Boise and Idaho City, and the Twin Falls area, according to Idaho Power. Many power lines were reported down on the ground or crossing roads, and officials urged the public to avoid the lines.
We appreciate our customers support and patience as we work to get the lights back on, said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Minor. We understand and apologize that this weather-caused outage impacted many of our customers.
The company's outage information line failed after it received an "unprecedented volume of phone calls," but the line is now accessible.
Those who have lost power are advised to turn off appliances to protect against voltage fluctuations that may happen if a circuit overloads when power is restored. Officials say you should wait 30 minutes after power has been restored, then begin turning on appliances in 10-minute intervals.
Boise County sheriff's dispatchers said Tuesday morning most of the rural areas are still without power and report trees down all over.
A storm packing 60-mile-per-hour winds passed through the Treasure Valley Monday, causing widespread outages. At least 50,000 customers across the Valley, Mountain Home and the McCall area were without power Monday night, said Lynette Berriochoa, an Idaho Power spokeswoman.
By Tuesday afternoon, that number was reduced to about 9.700, Berriochoa said. Crews continue to try to find and make repairs. Idaho Power lost between 150-to-250 power poles in the storm, she said.
Much of Valley County, including the McCall, Cascade, and Donnelly areas, was especially hard hit by the storm.
"We understand people have been without power for 12 hours ... we are working as fast as we can to make repairs," Berriochoa said Tuesday morning.
The power went out Monday night near the end of the Idaho Virtual Academy's graduation at Brandt Center at Northwest Nazarene University in the middle of singer Jessica Stephan's performance of "I Won't Forget You." Stephan continued on without amplifications and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
At 9:30 p.m., a Boise County dispatcher said she thought the entire county was without power the dispatch center has a generator. She said there were reports of trees on highways 17 and 21, and many county roads.
Canyon County dispatch received a flurry of calls during the storm about 20, a dispatcher said. The calls were mostly about trees in power lines and in the road; road crews were able to clean those up quickly, a dispatcher said.
At 9:45 p.m., an Elmore County official said the county was a "mess" with power lines down, brush fires and at least one structure fire in Mountain Home. The dispatcher said Idaho 20 was shut down from Mountain Home to the Camas County line.
Idaho Power's automated outage system was down throughout the storm. New "smart meters" on the lines provided information about outages, Berriochoa said.
"There's a lot of trees in the lines and a lot of damage," Berriochoa said Monday night. "It will be a long night for our crews and dispatchers, and everybody responding. This is clearly a pretty destructive storm."
George Skari, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said the temperature in Boise dropped from 93 degrees at 3:41 p.m. to 55 degrees by 9 p.m.
At about 7:30 p.m., an Ada County dispatcher said there were no many hazardous issues to discuss. None of the dispatchers had time, she said.
Just after 8 p.m., Ada County Sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Dearden said there had been about 13 calls for downed power lines in Ada County. A reported structure fire on Phillippi Street turned out to be a sparking power line. There were just two reports of trees down, and no reports of major damage, Dearden said.
If anyone sees a power line down, they should not try to move it, in case it is still active, Berriochoa said. They should call Idaho Power.
The Idaho Power outage line is: 1-800-488-6151 or 208-388-2323.