Gerry Tillett has been with the city street department for 11 years and said the storm that hit McPherson Thursday was in the top five in terms of damage.
Tillett, Street Department superintendent, was on the streets in his leather gloves just like the rest of the department Friday, clearing debris from streets.
Tillett held back a downed street light electric line, so a large loader could push limbs out of the intersection of Chestnut and Seitz.
The severity and amount of damage associated with this storm was unexpected, Tillett said. Winds reached in excess of 90 mph, ripping down limbs and electric lines and causing power outages across the county.
The McPherson Board of Public Utilities was still trying to restore power to some homes as of Friday afternoon.
BPU had crews on the streets until about 2 a.m. Friday, and crews came back on duty at 7 a.m. Friday.
About 1,600 BPU customers were without power as of Thursday night. As of 3 p.m. Friday, it was about 50 — most of those had problems with lines going from the alley to their individual homes, Tim Maier, BPU director said.
If you are still without power, call BPU at 245-2560 during business hours, or the utility can be reached at 245-2555 this weekend or after hours.
BPU crews will likely need another week to repair all the damage caused by Thursday’s storm. The utility has been concentrating its efforts on restoring power to homes, but many street lights are still off line.
Maier urged residents to stay away from all power lines. Although crews have tired to render all areas of the city safe, a lay person never knows when a wire might be energized.
Although temperatures dropped from a high of 107 Thursday to in the upper 80s Friday, Tillett said his crews tired to get the bulk of the heavy labor done Friday morning to avoid the heat.
By Friday afternoon, most of the debris had been cleared from roadways. However, many residents still faced significant cleanup from yards and drive ways.
In a press release Friday, the city said property owners will be responsible for removal of limbs from their property. The city will not provide curbside pickup.
The hours at the McPherson County transfer station have been extended. Expanded hours will include the transfer station being open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday. The station can only accept tree limbs during the extended portion of its hours.
Help for elderly, disabled
United Way of McPherson County is coordinating efforts to assist removal of brush and limbs. Volunteers will focus on assisting local elderly and disabled residents.
Page 2 of 2 - Individuals in need of brush removal should contact the United Way office at 620-241-5152 to register their request. Volunteer teams will work from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Persons interested in volunteering should also contact the United Way office. Community youth are encouraged to participate as well as adults who can provide pickup trucks.
Dyllon Johnson, who lives at the corner of Anna and Grimes, was filling a trailer with his own limbs Friday afternoon as his 5-year-old son, Taylor, looked on. He said he had been in the yard for three to four hours already and still had a large pile of limbs to load and haul to the transfer station.
His family was without power for four hours Thursday night.
“We left the windows and doors open, but it was still hot and dark in there,” he said.
Mark Heidebrecht, who lives at the corner of Bishop and Walnut, had a bigger problem on his hands.
A huge ash tree he estimated to be between 75 and 100 years old split and fell into his yard Thursday night. He said he is going to be forced to hire a tree service to remove the debris.
Heidebrecht was lucky the tree did not fall on his home. It took out two other trees when it fell, but he said has not surveyed any other damage to the property.
Heidebrecht also was without power for about two hours Thursday night.
“BPU did a great job getting us back on,” he said.