Tulsa: December 2007 Archives

A commenter on a Tulsa World editorial says that any comparison of Tulsa's disaster-recovery to the problems in post-Katrina New Orleans completely misses the point:


Somebody needs to do an intervention for the media types here in this city. First I got to listen to Joe Kelley rave about how well Tulsa did with its disaster compared to New Orleans residents. Now I get to read this tripe about tree pruning survivors. To hear these media types wail you would think that Tulsa survived the apocalypse instead of a moderate tree pruning. I personally blame the weathermen who about ten years ago began interrupting my TV programming to let me know 'it's sprinkling in Bixby" for this media tendency to make things seem worse than they actually are. So for you folks in the media who read about and write about the weather here are some signs that the city you are reporting about has not suffered a disaster.

Your city is not suffering a disaster if:

1. The strip clubs are all open for regular business hours.

2. You can go to Wal-Mart and buy the supplies you need instead of having to break into Wal-Mart and steal the supplies you need.

3. You don't have to swim to work.

4. The biggest portion of your insurance claim is that refrigerated goods spoilage check they sent you.

5. You spent the week crapping in your own bathroom and not in a porta-potty provided by the red cross.

6. You slept in your own bed and not in a cot at a shelter.

7. Your job is still here.

8. You could eat out at a restaurant every single day of the so called disaster.

9. You still had a car to get around in.

10. You could find an ATM machine that would process your request for funds.

11. You could still make and receive calls on your cell phones.

If you couldn't do any of the above then congratulations you are a victim. For thee rest of you well, you are just a bunch of whiners who need to get a little reality check.

(I fixed the commenter's typos for the sake of readability.)

Good points. It could have been much, much worse than it was.

Plaid all over

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We had a great time tonight at a performance of the oft-resurrected musical Forever Plaid, which brings back the era of close harmony pop quartets like the Crew Cuts, the Four Lads, the Four Aces, the Four Freshmen, and the Lettermen.

The play was presented by Tulsa Repertory Musicals at the historic Tulsa Little Theatre.

The Off-Off-Broadway play was first performed in Tulsa in 1995, and two members of the original Plaids are on stage this year: Mark Pryor as Frankie and Justin Boyd as Jinx. My wife, oldest son, and I have all had the pleasure of singing with Justin as part of Coventry Chorale, the schola cantorum for Trinity Episcopal Church's Epiphany Service, and this summer's Tulsa Boy Singers' tour of Britain. His performance tonight of the Four Lads' hit "Cry" was a show-stopper.

Tulsa Little Theatre, just south of 15th, turned 75 years old in 2007. After several years in which it was left to rot, Bryce and Sunshine Hill bought the theater and began restoration in 2004, reopening it in 2005. They've done a beautiful job, creating a very intimate venue for performances. The theater seats about 300 and is available for event rental.

Forever Plaid is worth the price of admission just for the chance to hear great old songs like "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "Catch a Falling Star." The laughter built into the well-timed choreography and the '60s nostalgia are icing on the cake. The three-minute condensed version of The Ed Sullivan Show is a sight to behold: In the time it takes to boil an egg they bring back Topo Gigio, Señor Wences, Bill Dana, and the Flying Wallendas, plus plate-spinners, dog acts, accordion players, and acrobats.

There's a matinee performance on Sunday which is sold out, but tickets are still available for the New Year's Eve show which begins at 9 p.m. Call 744-7340 to make arrangements to see the show.

Church closings

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Many churches in Tulsa are still without power and are reducing or cancelling services, but unlike schools they often don't have the procedures in place to get word out to all the appropriate media outlets, so you'll want to check each of the following if you think your church may be cancelling services.

KFAQ church and school closings
KOTV church closings
KTUL church closings
KJRH church closings

Power is still out at Christ Presbyterian Church, but with the help of the generator, there will be heat and worship, accompanied by guitar, in the youth room in the annex at 5120 S. Columbia Pl. at 9:15 and 10:45. No nursery, bring your own coffee, and dress warmly but as casually as you like.

On their website, PSO has a map showing the estimated date by which 95% of the customers in an area will be restored to power. Most outlying areas should be back on line today, north and east by tomorrow, north Tulsa and the mile or so around Southern Hills by Monday, and central Tulsa -- roughly the city's 1957 boundaries -- by Tuesday. Problems affecting individual customers or small clusters may not be solved by then. Some people have been told not to expect service until after Christmas.

For all the talk about trees, I am wondering how much of the ice storm damage is simply due to the effect of a 1/2 inch or more of ice on above-ground power lines. The main transmission lines are too high to be affected by trees; did we lose any of them? If no amount of tree trimming will spare us from this kind of situation, we need to weigh the cost of burying the lines against the costs -- loss of productivity, loss of perishable food, deaths and injuries. I would love to see an analysis showing how many customers were without power due to various causes -- downed line from ice, downed line from tree, blown transformer.

This morning on 1170 KFAQ, Mark Wayne Mullin of Mullin Plumbing addressed the next nasty challenge for those still without power. We are forecast to have a hard freeze -- 19 degrees -- Saturday night / early Sunday morning. The usual tactics of leaving your undersink cabinet doors open and leaving the faucets dripping only work when a house has heat. When the temps inside the house dip below freezing, you've got a problem.

Mullin urged homeowners in this situation to cut off the water at the meter. (Hopefully you've already got the special tool that makes this easy.) Then open all the taps, including the outside taps, for about 10 minutes to let any water drain out. Flush your toilets and plunge as much water out of the bowl as you can. If you have an electric water heater, drain it.

I didn't quite catch what he said about gas water heaters -- whether it made any difference that those would remain heated, or whether the heater would not be sufficient to combat temperatures in the teens. It's probably best to play it safe and drain a gas heater, too. (If someone heard the interview more clearly, please leave a comment.)

MORE: Here's some advice on coping with winter storm power outages from Northeast Utilities, where the weather is colder for longer. Keep in mind that heating oil-powered furnace boilers and radiated heat systems are rare in Oklahoma:

Keeping Your Pipes from Freezing

Shut off the valve that allows water to come into your home. Then, open any drain valves and all faucets and let them run until the pipes are empty (it's helpful to identify these valves in advance). Next, flush all toilets and pour denatured alcohol into toilets and sinks to prevent water in the traps from freezing. Do NOT use automotive antifreeze in case there's trouble with your water system; you don't want the antifreeze to contaminate your drinking water. You may, however, use nontoxic antifreeze that's made for winterizing motor homes.

Turn off the furnace emergency switch. Then drain your furnace boiler by opening the valve at the bottom (this looks like a garden faucet). Also, open all radiator vents. Be sure the boiler is filled with water again before it is restarted.

The tank of your electric water heater will keep water warm for the first few days after an outage. However, it can freeze after prolonged cold and should be drained after three days of below freezing temperatures.

Given that we're only going to have one or two nights of below freezing weather, it may be that gas and hot water heaters will survive without any problem.

PSO outage maps

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Interesting stuff on the PSO website, where you can find a map of restoration progress and a map of metro area outages. I'm not sure about that restoration map: Are the blank areas those that never lost power, or areas that just aren't "in progress" yet?

They have photos, too, and this description:

PSO is staging a massive effort to restore power as quickly as possible to customers in Tulsa and across northeastern Oklahoma following the devastating December 9 and 10 ice storm. Approximately 1,500 line workers from PSO's sister utility companies in the AEP System and from other utilities and contractors are working with approximately 500 PSO line workers to restore power. The power restoration effort is supported by a force of 1,000 tree trimmers needed to clear the tangled forest of collapsed trees from PSO's equipment, so repairs can be made.

Warrant woes

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Although the Tulsa Police Department blog is mainly official department news releases and reprints of news stories about TPD, occasionally something more like a personal blog entry is posted. Officer Jay Chiarito-Mazzarella has an expressively written, humorous piece about how something always seems to get in the way of serving a search warrant:

That is, when you typically observe criminal activity someplace, there's likely to be a "Scarface"-sized mound of blow (cocaine), a griddle pan worth of crack, and enough meth to make half of Tulsa's teeth grind for weeks. There's also likely enough people with guns inside you'd think the gun show had been rescheduled. And there's also typically enough people parading around in and out of the place with their crack pipe held high like they were leading the parade with a band leader's baton. You're practically waiting for the Snoopy balloon to come out any second, like it was a Thanksgiving Day parade.

But all that changes the second you type up a search warrant, go before a judge, and have a signed, search warrant in hand. It's truly one of those superstitiously, coincidentally weird kind of things. Like when you want something to happen, you think about the opposite, to "outsmart" whatever unknown-but all seeing-being is defining your luck for you.

Read the whole thing.

Power is still out most places around midtown. We didn't lose power until 7:30 this morning. Coming home from an event last night, the traffic lights were already out at 36th & Peoria and 21st & Utica.

Happily, the lines immediately leading to our house are all intact, thanks to Asplundh's butchery. A line supplying a pole light came down, however.

At times I have longed for a tree to shade our driveway, like the one our neighbors have had. Not anymore.

I can't help but notice: The fact that a branch doesn't overhang a line doesn't mean that it can't fall on a line and bring it down.

We've probably lost all three of our Bradford pear trees, plus a couple of big oaks. The trees that held on to their leaves were harmed the most, because there was more surface area for the ice to cover, and therefore more weight on the limbs. The trees that dropped their leaves did just fine.

There's probably a spiritual lesson in there somewhere. If you're a pastor, feel free to adapt it as a sermon illustration.

At about 4 p.m. I traveled down 41st Street between Yale and Garnett. Promenade was open, as was Reasor's, the other shops at Southroads, and nearly all of that commercial district. The McDonald's was closed, but seemed to have power. Traffic lights were out at Sheridan and Mingo, but the rest were operating. Home Depot was open and packed. The gas station at 41st & Memorial was doing a brisk business. It appeared that everything around 41st & Garnett was up and running.

Cycledog has photos of the storm's impact in Owasso.

MORE: Charles G. Hill has a storm report from Oklahoma City and pictures with links to more.

Bowden McElroy made it to work in Tulsa, but felt guilty about leaving his family home without power. And wouldn't you know it?

My 8:00 a.m. client showed up. Every one but my 5:00 p.m. client has canceled. Isn't that the way it always goes, the first and last appointments showing up and everyone else canceling?

STILL MORE: Don Danz says hooray for the chop:

Oh, and I'd just like to quickly thank those individuals with large trees who bitch and moan, and do everything in their power to thwart the power companies from trimming back their trees which have grown too close to power lines...thank you...from everyone in Tulsa and across the state...thank you for caring so much about your precious trees. We can all certainly agree that your precious aesthetic sensibilities are far more important than a reliable power grid.

To be fair, an ice storm like this is a once-in-a-generation occurrence. I hope someone studies the effects of the PSO's trimming practices before and after protests over excessive trimming. Was more moderate pruning as effective as the earlier clear-cutting?

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from December 2007.

Tulsa: November 2007 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: January 2008 is the next archive.

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