Powerful Storms Cause Multi-Day Power Outages in Oklahoma City Area

August 28, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

A storm system that caused heavy flooding and damage knocked out power for nearly 120,000 OG&E utility customers in the Oklahoma City metro area Monday night.  Streets were flooded, utility poles and power lines were down, and buildings and other structures suffered significant damage, including the football stadium at Choctaw Middle School.

Officials were not able to project restoration times, other than to tell residents to expect a multi0day situation.  OG&E was able to call in crews from other utilities to help with the restoration and cleanup process, with priority going to medical facilities and first responders, then densely populated areas, and finally smaller local neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, OG&E said it had been able to repair its backbone system, which delivers power to local neighborhoods for distribution to customers.  It also expects to have power back to all school by the end of the day.  Many school systems were closed Tuesday due to the power outages, and several remained closed Wednesday.  As of late Wednesday afternoon, more than 23,000 customers were still without power.

Extended outages are challenging for all involved and can cause significant hardship and expenses for residents and businesses, whether that’s because refrigeration isn’t available or medical equipment can’t be operated, or simply because businesses can’t function.

While the safety of residents is the primary concern for utility companies and first emergency personnel, power outages present additional concerns for businesses, beyond the duration of an outage.  Companies have invested significantly in their IT systems and rely on them for operational capacity.  When power is out, they are unable to conduct business.  But, these network and communications systems are at risk with every outage – and even with surges and spikes that can happen even without power going out. 

These servers, switches, and other equipment are all filled with tiny circuits that can easily  be damaged by surges, taking them offline.  Very often, the time to repair or replace these components is significantly longer than the power restoration time, extending downtime for businesses.

Business owners and IT teams should be aware of these risks and take measures to eliminate them by installing power protection systems.  These systems are designed to regulate power coming into businesses before it is distributed to equipment, eliminating any impact from power fluctuations.  Considering the cost of IT infrastructure, the additional expense of a power protection system is well worth it – especially when considering the damage a week or more of downtime can cause.

Edited by Erik Linask