CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa ó Alliant Energy crews were spread out across Cedar Rapids Tuesday, working to restore power to thousands of customers from Mondayís storms. Alliant spokesperson Justin Foss spoke with us near Kennedy High School, where a crew was trying to repair a downed line. Foss explained that Mondayís storms didnít knock down a lot of power poles, but it did uproot trees all over the city. Those were tall enough to reach nearby power lines and knock them out completely.
Foss compared the damage done by this weekís storms with the aftermath of storms in 2007 and 2008. He said the outages from this most recent round of severe weather was not isolated to one neighborhood, but spread across the city. Foss said Alliant had pulled crews from as far as northwest Iowa, and had assistance from contractors as well.
Line foreman Gary Henry explained that repairing downed lines isnít a particularly difficult process, just a time-consuming one. ďItís safety. Nobody gets hurt; thatís us, including the public. Once we get that squared away, we can start getting things back up on the poles. Itís just a tedious job.Ē
The power was out for several hours in many neighborhoods, and also affected businesses like the Lighthouse Inn on Mount Vernon Road. Manager Stephen McAtee showed us food in the coolers and freezers that were in danger of spoiling if the power had remained out much longer. As we were speaking with him, however, the power kicked back on. McAtee still estimated the restaurant could lose hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars of food.
ďWe pretty much have kept the freezers and all that stuff locked up. Itís just, we donít want to open it and let the energy out,Ē McAtee told us.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urges caution with food left in a refrigerator thatís been without power for 4 hours or longer, and advises not to eat it. They also strongly recommend throwing out any perishable items like eggs or meat, if theyíve been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for longer than 2 hours.