Storm Knocks Out Power to More Than 2,000 Alliant Customers in Cedar Rapids
By Sam Lane, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A tree struck by lightning in northwest Cedar Rapids Thursday evening split in half and brought down five power poles.
Around 2,750 Cedar Rapids residents were without power after the tree split and fell across E Avenue NW near 19th Street NW. At about 7:30 p.m., the large tree lay across power lines on the street. While five power poles broke completely, a few others bent, causing poles to be held up solely with taut power lines.
No one was injured in the pole's collapse despite original reports it fell on a car.
Alliant Energy spokesman Ryan Stensland said crews were re-routing power to return it to all but 250 customers whose lines were yanked from their homes when the tree fell. Crews will then dismantle the tree and replace the downed poles, a process that could take several hours. Residents in the area could be without power throughout the night, he said.
Officials have cut power to the fallen lines, but Stensland said residents should still treat the lines as live and stay away.
Stensland said Alliant understands the inconvenience of the power outage and said crews are working "as quickly and as safely as possible."
Cedar Rapids Fire Battalion Chief John Pulver said eight to 10 service wires were pulled from homes in the area and called the incident one of the worst he's seen in the area.
"This is pretty nasty," he said.
Don Gandy, who lives near the scene, said he was driving up E Avenue when he saw the tree come across the road. At first he attempted to use his car to block the road, but when he saw the poles shaking, he stopped.
"I said, 'Oh, that's it -- I'm done,' " he recalled.
Gandy said he heard three booms in succession. He said the incident was scary at first, but then he just wanted to try to block the road.
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