Power line

Tree limbs heavy with leaves and ice are dropping across Stillwater, taking down power lines and causing arcing and sparks in some cases. Stillwater Emergency Management is reminding residents not to stand under trees and to avoid touching branches laying on power lines, which could still be energized. 

In the wake of an ice storm that has brought tree limbs crashing down and knocking out power across the city, the City of Stillwater is receiving calls from people who are asking if shelters will be opened. 

Because of concerns about spreading COVID-19, communal shelters will not be opened, Stillwater Emergency Management Director Rob Hill said.

After looking into whether American Red Cross could play a role in sheltering people, possibly in hotels, Hill was told the organization is not issuing hotel vouchers.

Red Cross would have to deploy staff to every hotel where it was housing people and it doesn't have enough personnel available to do that, he said.

Area hotels do have rooms available and are booking people "left and right", Visit Stillwater CEO Cristy Morrison told the News Press.

It's going to come down to individual churches, if they're able to provide shelter space, Hill said. People are being advised to shelter in place if at all possible.

He said it's safer for people to stay home if they can than to get out and dodge tree limbs and power lines.

Temperatures are hovering around 32 degrees, making the situation undesirable but more manageable with warm clothing or extra blankets than if the area was experiencing single-digit temperatures, he said.

Hill said people are being asked to take in family members and to stay with friends if they need to, even if that wouldn't normally be recommended under COVID-19 guidelines. People should be looking out for each other.

"Help your neighbors," he said. "There are things you can do, even with COVID."

As the day drew to a close, crews from Stillwater Electric were preparing to work through the night to address damage and outages already reported and the damage and outages to come.

"It's just destroying stuff," Hill said. 

As he drove through town recording a Facebook Live condition update, Hill received a call looking for resources for a family with a member on oxygen.

Anyone with a serious medical condition or who is on oxygen and at risk due to a power outage should call 911 if they require assistance, he said. 

Twitter:@mcharlesNP

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