The Oklahoma Eagle Newswire
The city of Tulsa continues to be under an emergency declaration in response to winter weather – the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA) Emergency Operations Plan is being followed. TAEMA’s Emergency Operations Center is now fully activated.
If Power Outages Occur
In the event of a power outage or rolling outages, the City’s critical infrastructure, such as 911 and police and fire dispatch will remain unaffected. City utilities are also not affected.
PSO is asking customers to try to limit their energy usage at this time to help conserve power and prevent outages. For more information on cold weather safety and energy conservation, visit www.psoklahoma.com.
Keeping You Safe During Power Outages
Due to the extremely cold temperatures, it’s imperative Tulsans practice safety measures in the event of a power outage. Many things can go wrong in residences if proper safety measures are not followed. Having inadequate power generating and heating sources are one of the main causes for concern during power outages in extremely cold temperatures.
Before your power goes out, make sure your devices are charged and make preparations now. If power does go off, keep the warmth in your home and refrain from opening exterior doors or windows. To keep more heat in, you can place towels under doors and on windowsills. Make sure you have adequate clothing and blankets inside your home to help.
For more information on keeping you safe during power outages, visit: www.ready.gov/power-outages.
If you lose power and plan to utilize a portable generator, the generator should always be operated on the exterior of your home. It is important to keep them away from windows or any other places that would facilitate the fumes entering your home.
Check On Your Neighbors
Don’t wait for your elderly family members or neighbors to ask for help. Be proactive and ask what you can do to help. In these extreme events, the elderly, infants and toddlers are the most susceptible. Call or check in on them to make sure they have adequate and safe heating sources in their home. If absolutely necessary, ask what errands, if any, you could help them with.
Medicines and Medical-Dependent Devices
If you have medicines that need to be kept cold, ensure you have a place to store them in the event of an outage. If you own medical-dependent devices, ensure you have a battery backup plan in place in the event you cannot plug it into the wall.
Check Your Fridge During Outages
If a power outage occurs, check your food before eating it the next time you take it out of the fridge, check your food before eating it the next time you take it out. To keep your fridge from becoming warm, keep all doors shut. If you have items in your freezer you don’t want to ruin, you can put them outside. Other items in your fridge can be put in your garage, but you need to check on items you don’t want to freeze (this depends on how cold your garage is).
Heating Safety During Outages
Though space heaters can be useful, they can be very dangerous if not utilized in a safe manner.
Space heater usage guidelines:
- Keep it at least 3 feet from all combustible items
- Plug it directly into the wall without using extension cords
- Only one heater should be plugged into each outlet
- Only utilize electric space heaters – no gas-fueled heaters should be utilized indoors
- Never leave a space heater unattended (children and pets can easily knock them over causing fires)
Please do not use ovens or stoves as heating devices, especially appliances that utilize gas. These can create a carbon monoxide danger in your home. Also, do not use propane heaters not intended for indoor use, either, as they can pose a carbon monoxide risk.
Turn of High-Usage Appliances
If the power is turned off while you are in the middle of using appliances that are using more power than others (washers, dryers, etc.) you could risk damaging your appliance. Please refrain from doing laundry and other tasks that require high energy usage.
Check Your Smoke Detectors
If your alarms are hard wired into your home, make sure they have battery backup power in the event of an outage.
Tulsa Fire is asking residents to check smoke detectors to ensure they are operating properly. It’s also recommended residents purchase and install a Carbon Monoxide detector if they do not currently have one, as many heaters run off of natural gas.
Check Your Pipes
The extreme cold can freeze your water pipes, so it’s important to stay aware and take steps to protect your pipes and your property. With the potential for power outages, it’s more important than ever to ensure the integrity of your home’s water system.
To protect your water pipes from extreme cold, you should:
- Turn your faucets in a position that allows them to slowly drip consistently
- Open cabinet doors below faucets allowing warm air to contact the pipes – this is especially important for faucets located on walls that are on the outside perimeter of your home
- If you normally store cleaning supplies in these cabinets, it’s important to relocate them to a safe storage spot that children and pets cannot access
If water is not flowing out of your pipes, you should:
- Leave faucets open and make sure your cabinets are open
- Leaving faucets open makes sure you can expedite the thawing process
- Apply a safe heating source facing the walls with the frozen pipes in them to warm them up
- Never use a blowtorch or an open flame device to warm your pipes
- Make sure your heating source is away from any flammable materials
- Call a plumber if running water does not flow to your pipes in a reasonable amount of time – if the pipe is located on an exterior wall, it’s imperative to act swiftly
Additional tips on protecting your water pipes can be found online.
Outages Will Impact Traffic Signals
In the event of a power outage, the City expects traffic signals to be impacted. Impacted signals will go black. It’s asked drivers be extra cautious on roadways and near intersections. If a signal goes black, drivers should treat that intersection as a 4-way stop.
Snow Operations Update
City crews are utilizing group plowing to clear the snow that fell across the area earlier today. Crews will continue to work throughout the duration of this event to get snow cleared from arterial roadways. Plows are the main device being used today, as applying salt would make it easy for the plows to push it off of the roadways. Salt also does not activate nearly as well with temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have to be driving, please be mindful of City crews and snow plows.
It’s important for anyone who will be driving in these conditions to:
- Slow down
- Allow for at least 150 feet between your vehicle and a snow plow (this is roughly the same distance from a football field’s goal line to the 50 yard line)
There have been instances of private businesses and their contractors using snow plows in parking lots, pushing snow out into public streets. This should not occur, as it makes the City’s job tougher. Property owners should designate a spot on their properties where the snow can be piled.
Tulsa Animal Welfare Update
Tulsa Animal Welfare (TAW) will be closed to the public both today and tomorrow due to inclement weather. TAW officers will respond to emergency calls only, such as cruelty and bite calls. There are no appointments to see animals today or tomorrow, except for residents needing to drop off animals for an emergency. In the case of such an emergency, please call TAW at (918) 596-8001.
Waterline Break Updates
This morning, the City was working on more than 40 waterline breaks. Due to the extremely cold temperatures, this is not unexpected. Eight crews were working on these breaks today, along with an additional six crews from the City’s emergency contractor. Four crews will stay and work overnight to address waterline breaks as they happen.
The City has asked crews to frequently rotate and warm up in their vehicles whenever needed. Some repairs will take longer due to the cold temperatures.
Drivers should be aware of areas where there are orange cones and other traffic devices, as many of these are areas in the road where the waterline was repaired, but the road has not yet been repaired. When temperatures rebound, City crews will be able to fully repair the street when asphalt and other materials are able to be used.
Homeless Shelter Funding Update
In the last five days, Tulsans have rallied to support their vulnerable neighbors, raising more than $100,000 and counting, with the philanthropic community now having contributed more than $1 million to combat homelessness. Now, Housing Solutions has set the bar higher, asking for an additional $1 million in the next 60 days to support those experiencing homelessness.
To help meet this goal, Mayor Bynum will bring a budget amendment to the Tulsa City Council to join the effort and contribute $130,000 in CARES Act funds to Housing Solutions. These funds will pay for hotel stays that have proven to save the lives of our unsheltered neighbors.
Over the coming months, the funds will keep people in hotels as we work with A Way Home for Tulsa partners to achieve permanent housing. The fund will also help people with things like rent, security deposits and other housing-related costs.
To date, the City has provided more than $3.8 million in CARES Act funds in combatting homelessness.
To donate or send checks to help reach Housing Solutions’ $2 million goal, visit: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/the-center-for-housing-solutions-inc/give-hope
Gas Usage Update
Oklahoma Natural Gas (ONG) is asking customers to be mindful of their gas usage and is encouraging people to take measures to limit unneeded usage. Due to the unprecedented weather conditions, ONG is seeing potential for stressed gas supply.
Some easy ways residents can conserve gas include:
- Keep warm, not hot – if you’re too warm in your residence, turn your heat down
- Turn the heat down on your hot water tank – this will help gas usage with little impact on the customer
- Hold off doing chores that involve using gas appliances until temperatures rebound
For more ways on how to conserve gas, visit www.oklahomanaturalgas.com.
Refuse & Recycling Update
To keep City crews safe, there will be no refuse or recycling services today. Additionally, there will be no bulky waste services through Thursday.
It’s asked residents be patient during this time. The City will make every attempt to get caught up once weather conditions improve.
The City will re-evaluate this evening in anticipation of higher temperatures forecasted for Tuesday. The City will begin servicing refuse first when temperatures rise above 10 degrees. If crews are able to pick up on Tuesday, they will operate on a holiday schedule, with Monday customers being picked up on Tuesday, Tuesday customers being picked up on Wednesday, and so on.
Customers who have extra trash that will not fit inside the refuse bin can place a reasonable amount of bagged trash outside and next to their gray trash cart. Only trash, not recycling, should be placed in your gray trash cart or on the curb.
Additionally, the City of Tulsa Mulch Site is also closed until further notice.
Freezing Water Safety
Residents should STAY OFF freezing bodies of water, as the ice isn’t thick enough to safely support someone. Parents should take extra caution to ensure children are not trying to play on things like frozen pools, ponds, lakes and streams. Things like ice fishing and ice skating are not safe in these conditions on bodies of water that have just frozen over.
Winter Weather Preparedness
It is important to prepare now and plan for several days of snow and extreme cold. If you have to get out, please make sure your vehicle is prepared with a winter car kit and your gas tank is full. TFD recommends against travel in these winter weather conditions, as the temperatures are potentially lethal if you aren’t properly prepared. If you have to get out, make sure you bring extra clothing and bring a cell phone that is fully charged. For more winter weather preparation tips, visit: www.ready.gov/winter-weather
Residents who do not have to go outside should stay indoors. With temperatures dipping below zero and windchills well below zero, it only takes 15-30 minutes for exposed skin to develop frostbite. It’s vitally important to wear multiple layers when outside and cover any exposed skin with things like gloves, hats, face masks, goggles, etc. If you will be traveling, even for a short distance, bring extra clothing and blankets with you. In the chance your car breaks down or gets stuck and you have to walk, being unprepared could be deadly.
TAEMA remains in constant contact with area homeless shelters. All shelters report they have beds currently available. There are multiple outreach teams working to communicate the threat of upcoming weather to the encampments in Tulsa, and are attempting to convince as many of the unhoused population to seek shelter leading into the weekend as possible. TAEMA is working to provide material assistance to shelter operations to ensure they have the ability to continue to serve the community.
Housing Solutions, the City of Tulsa and community partners are working to get those experiencing homelessness inside during this cold snap.
The City is urging those who are outside to come inside without fear of losing their things – this has been a main concern among many who continue to choose to stay outside. The City and its community partners are not cleaning up homeless encampments or taking people’s possessions if they are left outside at this time.
Teams across the City are continuing to frequent known encampments and encourage people to come inside. If you see someone who you think needs assistance in the cold, please fill out this form so outreach personnel can make contact.
Yesterday afternoon, the City was able to access an encampment in south Tulsa utilizing a drone to help reach individuals. Due to these efforts, a dozen additional people were able to secure a safe and warm shelter. Outreach teams have now responded to every known encampment within the city and have been able to provide shelter to every single person seeking warm shelter. Yesterday evening, outreach teams were able to secure shelter for every person at an encampment located on West Brady St. under the I-244 bridge as well.
Some residents have tried to purchase fire pits and firewood and have been unloading these items at encampments, discouraging those experiencing homelessness to seek shelter. These efforts are also causing fire dangers. We are asking residents to allow the outreach teams to do their job so everyone can stay safe and seek shelter during this extreme weather as hypothermia and frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes.
There are multiple shelters available to those experiencing homelessness. Housing Solutions is working to get anyone who needs shelter into a local shelter at this time.
Right now, Tulsa shelters in operation include:
- The City’s Overflow Shelter at the former Juvenile Justice Detention Center
- Tulsa County Emergency Shelter
- Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, 415 W. Archer St.
- John 3:16 Mission, 506 N. Cheyenne Ave.
- Salvation Army, 102 N. Denver Ave.
Tulsa Parks Updates
Tulsa Parks community centers will be closed Monday due to winter weather. Additionally, Oxley Nature Center will also be closed on Monday. Student Support Camps, which serve students who are practicing distance learning at various community centers, will not be in operation on Monday due to the holiday.
Due to inclement weather, Inspection Services is only performing critical utilities inspections, such as repairs made due to removed gas, electric and water meters. To schedule an inspection for critical utility repairs, contact Phil Bradley at (918) 798-8031, Steve Malugani at (918) 519-8746, or Bob Kolibas at (918) 261-9129.
Please note that after hours inspections will be charged as overtime inspections billed at $260.
City of Tulsa Snow & Ice Response
The City of Tulsa is responsible for clearing snow and ice from the Gilcrease Expressway, L.L. Tisdale Expressway and all arterial (main) streets. Other highway segments in Tulsa are the responsibility of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
After a snow or ice storm begins, the goal is to make expressways and arterial streets safe and passable as soon as possible. These resources are available to attain this goal:
- 62 truck-mounted salt spreaders
- 4 truck-mounted Liquid Applicator Systems for brine application
- 48 truck-mounted snow plows (Of the 62 trucks with spreaders, and 4 trucks with Liquid Applicator Systems, 48 have plows)
- 7 4×4 pick-up trucks equipped with snow plows
- 3 motor graders for use as plows
- 210 employees (including drivers and support staff)
- More than 6,000 tons of salt
- 2 salt brine mixing systems
Crews are assigned to 35 specific routes totaling 1,770 lane-miles, which is approximately the same distance as driving from Tulsa to San Francisco. Spreading and plowing routes are prioritized based on traffic counts.
The following link includes the route map the City uses in its winter weather response: www.cityoftulsa.org/winterpreparedness
Additionally, a list of frequently asked questions on the City’s snow and ice response can be found online.