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In the snow … and in the dark

Updated: 2013-02-27T03:41:52Z

By LAURA BAUER

The Kansas City Star

Mic Johnson woke up early Tuesday, long before the sun, to a quiet blackness.

Outside, his neighborhood streets of Prairie Village were plenty dark. No houses with even a glow.

That lack of light and electronic noise played out in pockets across the metro area as a wet, heavy snow draped trees and power lines and sent Kansas City Power & Light crews on cleanup duty. Roughly 100,000 customers lost power at some point during the morning hours.

In Wyandotte County, the Kansas City, Kan., Board of Public Utilities reported outages from more than 8,000 customers.

By midafternoon, 600 workers with KCP&L, including some contractors brought in to help, had restored power to roughly 70,000 customers, said KCP&L spokeswoman Katie McDonald.

Late Tuesday, some 16,000 were still without power.

“We’ve made a lot of progress today,” she said early Tuesday evening.

But she warned that some customers — especially south of the metro area in both Kansas and Missouri — would probably still be without power this morning.

Some of those powerless people Tuesday, like Johnson and his wife, Missy, had it restored at one point in the afternoon but then saw it go off again.

“We got it back at 12:37 and it went out again at 1:30,” Johnson said via email just before 3 p.m. “Still not back on. … The fire is going and some of our perishables are in a cooler on the deck.”

Many who kept their power through the morning worried they could soon be like the Johnsons, with no TV, watching the thermostat go lower and lower and wondering how long they would have to hunker down.

Celeste Lindell and her husband, Alex Austyn, of Mission, have a fireplace, but it’s not operational. And they didn’t have any firewood. That’s why she couldn’t help but worry when she heard that residents about five blocks over had lost power.

If their electricity went out, she and her husband would have to cuddle up with their Italian greyhound, Toby, who Lindell says is like “a hot water bottle,” and hope for the best.

“Just not getting out, it is what it is. We’re used to it,” she said Tuesday morning. “But if we lose power, where are we going to go?”

While others called for information about possible shelters just in case, others just planned ahead.

Throughout Tuesday morning, Jeremy Newman kept his family’s home in Pleasant Hill, Mo., not far from the National Weather Service office, plenty warm. He had the fire going and made sure the thermostat remained pretty high. Just in case.

“The lights flickered a little, but we’re lucky so far,” said Newman, who spent a couple of hours outside with his family making an impressive snowman — which son Wyatt, 6, named Snow Bob — that towered some 8 feet.

“We’re keeping it (the house) warm now in case it does go off,” he said.

Johnson knows losing electricity can be a game changer. So he and Missy had the candles handy and tried to conserve the cellphone battery. They had the food they’d need.

“We stocked up,” said Mic Johnson, a social media coach and LinkedIn trainer. “We didn’t go crazy like some people did grabbing every loaf of bread like the end of the world was here, but we have enough.”

Plus, he had a little non-electronic entertainment. Definitely a bonus.

He’d recently purchased “Team of Rivals,” the book the movie “Lincoln” is loosely based on.

So as for the power outage, bring it!

“It’s about 1,000 pages,” said Johnson, using valuable minutes on his cellphone late Tuesday morning. “So if we’re snowed in for a month, we’ll be good to go.”

To reach Laura Bauer, call 816-234-4944 or send email to lbauer@kcstar.com.

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