Sunday: Tulsans recall deadly '07 ice storm
BY MICHAEL OVERALL, World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 08, 2012
Running out of food after just a couple of days, a Red Cross shelter asked for some urgent supplies, and the central command post quickly dispatched a carload.
But on the frozen city streets after the worst ice storm in Tulsa history, it took three hours to reach the shelter and another three hours to get back — a six-hour round trip that made Brian Jensen realize the full scope of the crisis.
“This was a massive, massive operation on a scale that Tulsa hadn’t seen before,” said Jensen, the senior director of emergency services for the Eastern Oklahoma Red Cross. “And we couldn’t deliver supplies fast enough.”
The freezing rain started late Dec. 8, 2007. But the full brunt didn’t hit until the early hours of Dec. 9, five years ago Sunday.
Crashing tree limbs and exploding transformers kept most Tulsans awake. And by dawn, the city was under a layer of ice that measured 3 inches thick in some places.
Twenty-nine deaths were linked to the storm, including half a dozen Tulsa-area residents who died in house fires. Scores of people running generators were treated for carbon monoxide sickness. Nursing homes and hospitals lost power and depended on generators to continue operating.
Damage to private homes was estimated at $780 million and a swath of northeastern Oklahoma was declared a federal disaster zone.
More than half a million people lost power statewide, including nearly 80 percent of Tulsa’s population. Then-Mayor Kathy Taylor devised an innovative program — Operation Power Up — to use volunteer electricians and others to make minor home repairs and restore power for those in need of help.
Read more in Sunday's World
A utility crew works on snapped power lines on 36th Street North between Harvard and Yale avenues on Dec. 11, 2007. Tulsa World file