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It may take days for Evergy to restore power to all Kansas City customers hit by storm

A man in an orange shirt holds a peace sign out of the window as he drives away in a bucket truck.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
KCUR 89.3
A worker with The Hydaker-Wheatlake Company and Utility Supply and Construction Company, which came to the Kansas City area to help Evergy restore power, drives a bucket truck out to a restoration site.

Evergy estimates more than 11,000 customers remain without power after Friday’s thunderstorms, but with more storms hitting the Kansas City area, it may be several more days before all service is restored.

In the aftermath of Friday’s thunderstorms, Evergy says it’s undertaking the largest power restoration project in over two decades — but it may take several more days to bring all the lights back on.

About 11,800 people in the Kansas City metro were still without power as of Monday morning, almost two days after storms with winds of up to 100 miles per hour downed trees and power lines.

However, as more storms come through, crews may not be able to do as much work as initially planned.

"We expect outages in the Topeka and Lawrence areas to be restored by Sunday night," Evergy said in a note on its website. "As these outages are restored, crews will head east to assist with restoration where outages remain. In some areas of the Kansas City metro, outages may last into early next week."

National Weather Service reports two possible severe thunderstorms in the metro area today, bringing wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and hail the size of quarters. And more thunderstorms are also predicted Monday and Tuesday.

Workers will be called inside if there is lightning or conditions are otherwise considered unsafe.

At the peak, Evergy reported 186,000 people without power at one time through Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area.

By Sunday morning, Evergy reported power had been restored to 93% of customers. The utility company has more than 3,000 people working 16-hour shifts — as long as it is safe to do so in the rain.

“The great thing about having a utility that operates in both Missouri and in Kansas and is centered in Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City is we've got a lot of resources that we can throw at a restoration like this,” said Chuck Caisley, senior vice president and chief customer officer for Evergy. “But when all of those cities are hit at the same time with the same storm, it just slows down the restoration effort.”

(KCUR’s local studios, which also lost power and interrupted broadcasts, finally went back online Sunday. Local broadcasting resumed at 89.3 FM and our stream has been restored at KCUR.org/listen.)

A tree took down a power line at 49th and Terrace in Kansas City.
Lisa Rodriguez
KCUR 89.3
A tree took down a power line at 49th and Terrace in Kansas City.

Caisley said over 500 poles were severely damaged or uprooted entirely, as were major transmission lines. Outages remain in nearly every corner of the metro, but especially in South Kansas City, Leawood, Prairie Village and Lenexa, which were among the hardest hit areas.

Evergy estimates that even with crews working round the clock, outages could remain into Tuesday.

The outages that remain are mostly within residential areas. In major storms and outages like this weekend, Evergy says it first restores critical infrastructure like hospitals and wastewater treatment centers before moving on to the parts of the system with the most customers.

To handle the project, Evergy has called for “mutual assistance” from other utilities, with workers coming in from companies in eastern and southern Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

So many crews were brought to the area, Evergy says, that it ran out of hotels to put them in. Some workers are staying as far away as St. Joseph and Warrensburg, Missouri, and Atchinson, Kansas, and are being bussed in by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and the Kansas City Transportation Group.

Before they can restore many residential areas, crews have to work to clear downed trees and repair transmission lines.

“The damage that was done by this isn't from branches coming into contact with lines,” Caisley said. “It's where trees are uprooted, thrown into poles and poles are snapped. So it's major damage … They clean that up first, then they ground out the system to make sure that it's completely safe to work on, and then they start replacing the infrastructure.”

Replacing just one pole takes up to four hours to complete, requiring as many as three trucks and eight people.

 A man in a black polo that says "Evergy" stands with a concerned look on his face.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
KCUR 89.3
Chuck Caisley, the senior vice president and chief customer officer with Evergy, said power restoration could take two to three more days after the severe storm on Friday. Storms are also expected Sunday through Tuesday, which may interfere with the work.

Caisley says that if your power is still out, there are some ways to alleviate the heat while at home — however, getting to an air-conditioned area is always safest.

He recommends keeping windows open overnight until the sun starts coming up, in order to release heat that’s built up in the home and make it cooler throughout the day. Close windows and blinds in all areas of the house, but especially areas that get hit directly by the sun.

Temperatures will be lower in basements or lower levels of the house. Putting damp towels or sheets over open windows (that don’t get hit directly by the sun) can also help bring cool air in.

“But at the end of the day, everybody wants their air conditioning, and that’s why we’re working 16-hour shifts with 3,000 people to get the lights back on,” Caisley said.

To check on the progress of power restoration, keep updated on Evergy’s outage map. The utility is also staffing customer service representatives 24 hours a day at 1-800-LIGHTKC (1-800-544-4852).

Debris cleanup

Kansas City is expanding cleanup services this week to help clean up from storm debris.

The following locations are open and free for residents of Kansas City, Missouri (with proof of ID) to deposit things like yard waste, brush and tree trimmings. Non-residents can use the sites for a fee.

  • 11660 N. Main Street (NE corner of Northeast Cookingham Drive and North Main Street)
  • 1815 N. Chouteau Trafficway
  • 10301 Raytown Road

The city will begin curbside collection for storm debris starting July 24, but residents must make an appointment through the myKCMO app or by calling 311. Find more info here.

Here is more info on debris drop-off and pickup efforts in Johnson County, from the Shawnee Mission Post:

  • Overland Park: Drop-off site at 11921 Hardy Street
  • Leawood: Drop-off site at 2008 W 104th Street
  • Shawnee: Drop-off site on the southwest corner of Johnson Drive and Renner Road
  • Lenexa: Curbside pickup sometime next week
  • Prairie Village: Curbside pickup, details not released yet
  • Mission: Curbside pickup this week
  • Roeland Park: Collecting fallen tree limbs and yard waste as part of regular trash pickup
When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
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