Power still out for about 5,500 Utah customers five days after storm

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Crews replace a splintered power pole along 1500 East, 1300 S. in Salt Lake City while cleaning up from extensive wind damage on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, following a storm that brought hurricane-force winds.

About 5,500 Rocky Mountain Power customers remained without power Sunday evening, five days after hurricane-force winds swept through northern Utah.

Crews from Iowa and Nevada arrived to lend a hand, giving the utility company about 280 employees who are working day and night. They were able to restore power to about 3,000 customers early Sunday. Still, it may be days before others get the lights turned back on, Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson Spencer Hall said. That means thousands could still be without power as a new workweek starts and as school is set to begin in Salt Lake City School District.

“Certainly, there will be some [without power] remaining early into the next couple of days. That’s where people get frustrated,” Hall said. “They can see their neighbors’ [power] is on and they wonder why theirs aren’t. It takes a long time.”

More than 170,000 customers lost power Tuesday when gusts of up to 99 mph blew through the area. After repairing the service lines that would bring electricity to large swaths of houses and businesses, Hall said, Rocky Mountain Power is now working to do the same for smaller clusters.

“We repaired lot of the big things. Now we’re getting into pockets: four homes, two homes, one home,” he said.

About 80% of the remaining outages affect pockets of 10 homes or less, according to a tweet by Rocky Mountain Power. Many of those homes are in the East Bench of Salt Lake City, where a majority of the mature trees fell, causing considerable damage. Outages, however, span from Ogden to Rose Park to South Salt Lake.

Hall said the outages can’t be traced back to just one thing, such as a broken pole. Instead, crews have to assess and repair a variety of issues.

“People wonder who’s going to be first, who’s going to be last,” he said. “That’s not the way it works.”

He added that as Rocky Mountain Power moves “into the granular level” of repairs, updates will become more precise.

Power has been restored to all emergency services and critical care businesses, such as nursing homes, Hall said. As for everyone else?

“We’re going to be working nonstop until we get it all back online,” he said.