The mild winter weather of January 2019 came to a sudden halt last Friday night when temperatures dropped during a heavy rainfall, leaving trees and grass with a thick coating of ice.
Trees and tree branches could be heard crashing to the ground during the nighttime hours, and by Saturday morning Bloomfield yards were littered with ice-covered branches, large tree limbs, and even an occasional tree.
A storage shed on JD and Brenda Boatman’s property was damaged when a tree trunk snapped and the top of the tree landed on the roof of the building. The Boatmans called in Olinger Tree Service Saturday morning, hoping to have the tree removed and the shed covered with a tarp before the snow began to fall Saturday afternoon.
A large pine tree near the home of Brent and Belinda Lindberg was uprooted and, fortunately, fell into an open grassy area.
Some homeowners were out early Saturday cutting up limbs and moving them into piles for later disposal. Others were waiting for warmer weather before cleaning up the debris.
Interim City Administrator Andy Morris said Monday afternoon Mayor Dan Wiegand plans to have the city council address the issue of cleanup at the Jan. 16 council meeting. Following the meeting, the public will be notified of the city’s plans for cleanup.
Mark Wagler of Bloomfield’s street department said his crew spread 24 tons of salt “all over town” on Saturday. The city’s major concern, he said, was limbs falling on power lines.
“Between the wind and ice, wires were snapping and trees were breaking. We had five power outages on the west side of town,” he said.
Most of the power outages were short, he reported. The electrical crew was able to remove limbs from power lines and turn the breakers on.
Greg Proctor, General Manager of Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative, said there were 24 or 25 outages in SIEC’s four-county area. Eight crewmembers worked round the clock from Friday through Sunday to return power to all of SIEC’s customers.
“The ice and wind create a galloping effect that puts stress on the lines and the connecters,” Proctor said, adding that limbs falling on power lines were also a problem.
SIEC had 100-150 homes affected by the outages. Some of the outages were short, but other homes were off for several hours, Proctor said.
“We’re sitting here today (Monday) with our fingers crossed,” he added. “We hope it warms up slowly so there will be no residual effects. If the ice melts quickly or the wind blows, there can be a reverse effect.”
Proctor said his crewmembers found as much as 1.25” of ice encompassing some of the copper wires.
Complimenting his employees who put in long hours of overtime, he said, “SIEC crews shine. Each employee did a fantastic job of responding. We did not call for any outside help, even though it was being discussed.”