United States: Kansas City Encounters Worst Natural Disaster of New Century

There is no doubt that the days between Jan. 29 and Feb. 8, 2002, will remain in the minds of the residents of the Kansas City, Missouri metropolitan area for years to come.

Beginning in the early afternoon of January 29 and extending into the morning of January 31, more than 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) of ice accumulated on the trees and overhead lines, causing what some people are calling the worst natural catastrophe in Kansas City history.

Tom Robison, Public Information Officer of Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) stated, “In 1996, the area was struck by a freakish snowstorm in late October that caused outage repair work for about five and a half days at a cost of US$13.4 million. However, the recent ice storm required outage-restoration efforts of twice as long with twice as many crews.”

KCP&L brought in crews from utilities as far away as Indiana and Texas. KCP&L's normal workforce includes 107 crews, which amounts to 489 people. As a result of the ice storm, KCP&L bolstered its workforce by an additional 738 crews, totaling an additional 2300 people.

All in all, the ice storm affected almost 50% of the electrical energy users in the area.

  • KCP&L recorded the most outages with a total of 285,000.

  • Utilicorp United (Missouri Public Service) reported the storm affected 100,000 customers and damaged more than 500 poles.

  • Westar Energy reported service interruptions to more than 100,000 customers.

  • The Kansas City, Kansas Board of Public Utilities reported 48,521 customer outages.

  • The Power & Light Department of Independence, Missouri, said more than 25,000 customers reported problems.

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