Unexpected Disaster | OEC News

Crews rebuild after tornadoes sweep through Norman

February typically brings a threat of snow and winter storms, but on Sunday, Feb. 26, members instead braced for severe spring-like storms. Multiple tornadoes were confirmed in OEC’s service area that evening, the most impactful being an EF-2 that destroyed homes and businesses in the eastern parts of Norman.

While many members faced a long road to rebuilding, OEC and OEC Fiber crews worked through the night and the next day to rebuild infrastructure and restore power and broadband services to the thousands of members affected by the storms.

“At the storm’s peak, we had a little over 15,000 members without power and four substations offline,” said OEC VP of Operations Marty Hayes. “I couldn’t be more proud of the response from our team in restoring all but around 800 accounts as of 4:30 Monday morning.”

The tornadoes destroyed about 60 poles and three miles of electric line, and OEC Fiber lost over three miles of fiber line as well.

“During the storm, about 12,000 OEC Fiber subscribers temporarily lost service,” said Senior Manager of Outside Plant & Fiber Technicians Joe Torres. “Fortunately, we were able to reroute and reconnect most subscribers quickly.”

The addition of fiber strands to OEC’s electric poles led to a progressive system-wide upgrade in infrastructure over the last five years. While this strengthened the electric system, it’s hard to combat the effects of a tornado.

“I’m proud of how our entire OEC and OEC Fiber teams responded in the wake of these storms,” said CEO Patrick Grace. “Their training and expertise translated into safe and efficient restoration of both power and broadband services. Our thoughts are with our members and subscribers who lost homes and have experienced damage to their property.”

HOW WE CAN HELP

If you, a neighbor, family member or friend experienced damage as a result of the tornadoes, our Operation Round Up program can help. Each month, 87% of OEC members round up their electric bills. The OEC Foundation board of directors meets periodically to review applications and award grants. Anyone — OEC members and non-members that reside within our seven-county service area — may visit okcoop.org/ORU to submit an application.

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