The top question in Pauls Valley this week was “when is the power coming back on” after a summer storm packing winds of at least 100 mph rocked the town shutting down electricity for just about everyone here for hours and even days.
Those strong winds early Wednesday morning not only knocked out power but turned all of PV into a tricky place to navigate with heavy damages to trees and limbs that in places made streets impassable.
The devastation was so bad Mayor Jocelyn Rushing signed a proclamation declaring Pauls Valley an official disaster area only hours after the storm had passed.
“There were other places that got damages, but Pauls Valley was one of the hardest hit cities,” City Manager James Frizell said.
“There was not a block untouched in Pauls Valley. It’s the worst since the 2001 ice storm.
“To me it’s the worst damage I’ve ever seen in Pauls Valley.”
The high winds created damages to countless trees, houses, businesses and vehicles all over town.
The morning after the storm a common sight was the army of OG&E trucks and workers descending on PV to get the power back going.
Right after the storm around 5,400 OG&E customers had no electricity to their homes or businesses in the Pauls Valley area.
By Thursday that number had dropped to around 2,200 as power began returning in pockets of town with even more on Friday.
“Power started coming back fairly quick in some parts of town,” says PV Police Chief Mitch McGill.
“OG&E is doing a heck of a job.”
There were also city crews out and about helping residents who were quick to get out and start clean up efforts in neighborhoods all over town.
In some cases city backhoes were needed to clear streets blocked by downed trees as many were large and uprooted by the force of the high winds.
“Our crews have been out cleaning the streets,” Frizell said.
As the clean up continues local residents are urged to do it the right way.
“You need to know what to do with the debris,” McGill adds.
“City crews will be getting around to pick up it up, but people need to cut tree limbs six feet or less.
“Then put it curbside and not in the street. We’ll be hauling brush for some time.”
Folks need to remember is they hire someone to cut their tree limbs they are responsible for hauling them off.
If residents are able to haul tree limbs they can take the debris to a city barn that is the old Halliburton building at 2000 South Chickasaw. This service is free.
The debris can also be taken for free to the local solid waste transfer station until noon on Saturday.
Another option is on Saturday and Sunday tree limbs can be taken to a designated spot to be marked at the local sports complex.
After this week's storm Pauls Valley’s firefighters were also on high alert from the start.
The reason was as power slowly returned all over town it would at times spark fires because electrical lines were still tied up with broken trees and damages.
On the bright side it appears no one was hurt from the storm.
“We’re fortunate there weren’t many if any injuries from this,” said the city manager.
For McGill and his police officers another initial fear was the possibility of thieves and looters trying to take advantage of an entire town being without power for an extended period of time.
Fortunately that never materialized as local police set a midnight curfew starting Wednesday night.
“It helped a lot,” the chief said. “The night before we had people everywhere. There were two or three break-ins reported. We did beef up patrols looking for looting.
“Citizens did a good job of policing themselves.”
There were also a handful of local businesses that had windows blown out from the strong winds.
The curfew was set to end when all the power is restored throughout town.
Another warning to local residents is the possibility of scammers claiming to be able to help with repairs for damaged roofs.
“If you have roofers approach you they have to have a city permit,” Frizell said, adding legitimate contractors are certified by the state.
“People need to pay close attention that they have all the credentials to inspect and give quotes for roof work.
“There are predators out there, so we don’t want anyone taken advantage of.”
The storm was also felt on Interstate 35 as least three semi trucks were overturned by winds while traveling past Pauls Valley.
A portion of U.S. Highway 77 just north of PV was down to one lane for a time Wednesday because power lines were down in the southbound lanes.