BY SHELBY NIEHAUS
As a result of a major thunderstorm on the afternoon of Saturday, July 14, all Altamont electrical utility customers were without electric power, and many homeowners found tree limbs, shingles, and other debris on their property.
City clerk Sarah Stephens, calculating figures in her office on Wednesday morning, claimed that immediate storm cleanup efforts resulted in some 180 man-hours of emergency labor over the weekend. This included attending to downed power lines and restoring service to the entire town in stages as lines were repaired.
The south part of Altamont regained power earliest, an estimated 90 minutes after the storm ended. Other electrical feeders were powered back on one-by-one, ending with the feeder servicing the East Meadows neighborhood, which Stephens said was powered back on at around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.
As of printing, the urgent work is done. City workers continue to clear tree branches and smaller debris from roads and public spaces, and the few homes left without electrical service are vacant. Some residences also need individual electrical work.
Stephens did not offer a dollar amount of damage done by the storm. She mentioned that no city property sustained any damage.
What she did mention, though, was her joy at seeing the citizens of Altamont working together after the storm. She praised the dedication of city employees and the hard work of laborers supplied by the Department of Corrections. Additionally, Stephens noted that volunteers descended upon the Altamont Municipal Building almost immediately.
Rachel Krouse, a resident of Meadows street, reported how impressed she was with one such group of volunteers. Zaine Schwerman, Daniel Stephens, Justin Haywood, Josh Ledbetter, Abby Kuhl, and Brianna Alexander, wandering the East Meadows area offering their services, helped her move fallen limbs from her deck. The group refused to take money for their labor. Krouse repeated how much she wanted the volunteers to be recognized, and how happy she was to see young people working for their community.
As the week wears on, residents continue to carry arm-loads of branches to the streets for cleanup, and public workers sweep away dust and leaves, though the work lessens each day. Soon enough, the city of Altamont will return to normal.