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Lawton Residents, PSO Recovering from Storm Damage

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LAWTON Okla_ 7News is continuing coverage of the power outage that followed Wednesday night's severe storm. It was much more widespread than originally thought. 

Some 11,000 customers lost their electricity when the storm blew through. Public Service Company of Oklahoma said crews restored power to residents who live directly in the path of some downed power lines around 2:00 PM Thursday.

Those homeowners, who live along Southwest Lee Boulevard just east of 67th Street, were the hardest hit. Strong winds ranging up to 70 miles per hour knocked over 12 power poles, even snapping some in two. The poles and live wires fell directly onto their properties, forcing residents to evacuate.

Residents said during the storm, the power poles started falling like a stack of dominos along their stretch of the road. Some of them said they had mere moments to put rubber shoes on, which would protect them from getting electrocuted, to run out of their houses. Luckily, no one was injured, and power is restored.

PSO said the work's not over yet, though. They're preparing for more.

Dee Davis said his job is to make sure things move as swiftly as possible. He said the downed poles, live wires and damaged homes slowed the process down.

"In this particular case, we did have a lot of conductors and poles down in people's yards," Davis said. "To get that back out and put up new poles and get the wire out creates some degree of difficulty. That's part of the job."

Twelve power poles were cracked as a result of Wednesday's winds. Unfortunately, some of them ended up in residents' back yards. Davis said it's important to remember during situations like these to steer clear of the power lines. They could be live, and you could be electrocuted.

"The lines look harmless," Davis said. "It's just a piece of wire, but if it's carrying current, the voltage it's carrying is 130,000 volts. With a 13,000 distribution voltage, it's extremely dangerous. We're so proud that no one was injured last night. They did what we asked them to do."

Thelma Bookman's house was right in the line of danger.

"Hot wiring was on top of my house," Bookman said. "All I could see is rain, and then I looked down the street. All I could see is that every one of them was falling."

Bookman said she and her husband quickly put their rubber shoes on and ran out of the house.

"That's pretty scary, when your electric wire's coming on top of your roof," Bookman said. "That's how it was last night. I was deathly scared, thinking, ‘Oh my God. My house is going to burn up.'"

I asked Davis if the company considered installing the power poles in a different way, considering the types of storms we get here. He said it would be very expensive to put in concrete or steel poles, and there's no guarantee those would hold. He said the company is using the most economical installation. They're trying to keep their rates affordable for customers.

Davis said it's costing the company about $100,000 to fix the poles damaged in Wednesday's storm. He said the company is always well prepared for these types of situations.

"We had crews put on alert from McAlester and Tulsa ready to head this way," Davis said. "If storms hit, we're prepared to go to those areas to assist as well."

Davis said the company will be monitoring Thursday's weather situation closely, to plan for any power outages.

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