Reese Gavin has been working 17-hour days to bring electricity back to people who lost their power in Saturday night’s storm.
“When you’re about an hour from getting customers’ power on, you just can’t leave,” said Gavin, a crew foreman for J.F. Electric in Wichita who arrived Sunday to help KCP&L restore power to 140,000 customers.
By 5 p.m. Tuesday, some 1,200 workers, including tree and line crews from KCP&L and other utilities, had restored power to all but 2,400 customers. Still without power, according to KCP&L’s website, were more than 660 customers in Overland Park, almost 600 in Kansas City and nearly 200 in Prairie Village.
“Right now, our customers are certainly angry; they want to get their power on,” said Jeremy McNeive, manager of media communications for KCP&L. “... This was a historic storm for KCP&L in terms of the number of outages and the area of the outages.”
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KCP&L expected most of its remaining powerless customers to have electricity by the end of Tuesday, but those with outages caused by multiple downed poles or trees might not be back up until sometime Wednesday.
Gavin was working Tuesday morning on a six-block area roughly from 75th and Robinson streets to 78th and Hardy streets where a tree had fallen on a power line behind the home where Massi Rahimi lives with her husband and three children.
“Trees and power lines just don’t mix,” Gavin said.
The storm caused widespread damage, with winds reaching 70 mph that knocked down trees and snapped about 200 utility poles, KCP&L said.
Rahimi’s family has been relying on help from Overland Park Lutheran Church since the storm.
The church’s pastor gave Rahimi a key to the building. She has been able to keep food refrigerated and cook for her husband and children, ages 10, 6 and 3, in the church.
The family has been in the United States for less than a year after emigrating to escape religious persecution, and the church has helped with the transition.
Of the church members who have helped her family, Rahimi said, “If they were not here, I don’t know anybody.”
Even with the church’s generosity, the power outage has not been easy on the family. Rahimi said the heat has kept her children up until midnight each night.
Asked if she was hoping to have power restored soon, Rahimi said, “I pray.”
Gavin said he wasn’t sure when power would be restored to Rahimi’s house because additional work would be required by an electrician after his crew was finished.
Overland Park residents also have turned to businesses to find the comfort that their homes couldn’t provide.
The Drury Inn Kansas City Shawnee Mission in Merriam, for example, has been fully booked since the storm.
Tavern in the Village also received high volumes of customers as a result of the storm. The restaurant lost power about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, when it was getting ready to close, but was ready to open Sunday morning.
“It became sort of a hangout spot,” general manager Cameron Sterret said. “But it was nice to have people come out, get some air conditioning, grab some food and just to help everybody out through the heat.”
At Ward Parkway Shopping Center, which lost power after a transformer reportedly exploded, about 30 businesses received electricity Tuesday afternoon.
While KCP&L works to restore the outages in this summer heat, United Way of Greater Kansas City has provided a list of cooling stations, available by dialing 211, for those without power.