Electricity was restored to most of Chadron about 8:00 last night after damage from high winds led to a mid-afternoon decision to shut down the entire city power grid for safety reasons while crews continued to make repairs.
NPPD spokesman Grant Otten said that as of that time, only about 430 customers remained without service but that it was possible some of them might be without power until sometime today.
This morning, Otten said just 7 remained without electricity at 7:00 AM and all had repairs that needed to be made to the individual service line.
The problems began in the morning when winds gusting over 45 mph caused an outage at 9:34 that impacted 451 customers on the southwest side of town.
Otten says power to those customers was restored at 10:38, but two more outages occurred less than 30 minutes later affecting some 385 customers in the same general area as the first outage and another 365 spread throughout the rest of the city.
The high winds, which had gusts measured over 60 mph at the Chadron airport, brought down power lines and damaged or destroyed utility poles while keeping crews from making repairs. As they continued into the afternoon, discussions were held between NPPD, the city, and the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department on safety issues.
Chadron Fire Chief Brandon Martens asked that the full power system be shut down because of the threat from downed electrical lines, including fires that would quickly spread in the high winds. The request was granted and the shutdown occurred about 2:30.
The Fire Department, city, and NPPD continued to coordinate so that customers could be brought back online as safely and as quickly as possible, leading to the lifting of the total shutdown about 8:00 pm.
The loss of electricity wasn’t the only problem brought by the wind. Many trees across Chadron and the surrounding area lost limbs with some losing their tops and others being uprooted and falling on vehicles, buildings, or streets. The 500 block of Main Street was closed for several hours in anticipation of one such tree going down.
A combination of concerns over downed power lines, trees and limbs in streets – not to mention dumpsters blown considerable distances – led to Chadron officials urging travel, even in the city, be limited to emergencies.
Damage to structures was relatively mild, given the force of the winds. Some roofs took considerable damage, but most escaped significant injury. Windows were broken or popped out, including a number at Chadron State College. There have been no reports of serious injuries.