, Ore. (KMTR) -- While the lights are back on for most after Wednesday's surprise snow storm, crews with one of the hardest hit electric utilities are still working to get power back to homes in rural Lane County
EWEB, SUB, and EPUD say they are in the home stretch of restoring power in Lane County with numbers that are too low to count.
Meanwhile, crews working for and with Lane Electric Cooperative are still working to restore service to a few hundred customers.
According to Lane Electric, the snow storm was the “worst possible thing is could have faced as a rural utility.
“(The conditions have been) horrendous, they are horrendous circumstances and we're fortunate, our members have been really really good with us,” says Dave D’Avanzo, Member Services Manager for Lane Electric.
Lane Electric’s lines mostly run through wilderness area in rural Lane County. The utility has more than 1,500 miles of overhead line running through two-thirds of Lane County.
About 13,000 meters are serviced any typical day for Lane Electric. At the peak of the outage, 8,000 were without power. Eight of Lane Electric’s 12 substations went offline during the Wednesday, March 21, 2012 storm.
Saturday, March 24th, 2012, crews were working on Siuslaw River Road and Letz Creek, which is about 18 miles west of Cottage Grove in the middle of the forest.
Saturday night, about 280 Lane Electric customers were without power.
The biggest problem is how spread-out things are and the extent of the damage.
Crews say every time they’re restoring power to a line, only about customers are getting power back. Much of the damage left for residents is in small rural pockets.
In the meantime, crews are working 18 hours on and six hours off until the work is done. For the initial shift after the storm, crews worked for about 30 hours straight.
“This is probably one of the most damaging storms at least since the wind storm of 2002. The difference here is that it's very wide spread, it's from every corner of our service area - up the McKenzie to Oakridge, to Cottage Grove to Row River to Veneta to Lorane,” says D’Avanzo, Member Services Manager for Lane Electric.
Normally, Lane Electric only has three crews of its own covering all of its lines. Following the storm, the utility has had seven crews on, working with neighboring utilities to help restore things.
Those crews are cutting trees, pulling lines off of the ground, even putting new power poles in, which takes about four hours per pole.
The hope is to restore power in the coming days, but there is no timeframe, as much of the work is very unique in how it presents itself when crews find it.