VALLEY — Most of the southern San Luis Valley saw some if not major damage early Wednesday morning, Dec. 15, when a predicted wind and snow squall passed through with hurricane-strength gusts.
No area was more affected than Conejos and Costilla counties where a major power outage left over 200 patrons without electricity in Costilla County, according to San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative. Reports indicated that more than nearly 130 electric poles were blown over near the Conejos-Costilla border, several around San Acacio, and beyond.
SLV REC estimated that there were 58 downed transmission poles and 70 distribution poles down throughout the service area, mostly in Costilla County.
As of about noon on Saturday, Dec. 18, most services had been restored. There were four meters in new San Acacio and two meters north of new San Acacio that remained without power longer; most of those have been restored. There was a small glitch on Sunday late afternoon, Dec. 19, and some members again lost power for about an hour.
Numerous trees were blown over across the Valley and both businesses and homeowners reported damage to outdoor furniture, Christmas décor and some out buildings.
Costilla County emergency management officials conducted two virtual meetings on Thursday, Dec. 16, involving government and utility representatives from across the Valley.
According to Ben Doon, chief administrative officer, the Costilla County Commissioners passed a disaster declaration Dec. 16 and a similar request was made to Governor Jared Polis to hopefully provide emergency funding to the county and its residents. A Red Cross emergency shelter was established Dec. 15 at the Blanca-Ft. Garland Community Center but was shut down Dec. 16 as county officials secured motel vouchers in San Luis and Fort Garland.
Chris Rodriguez, Costilla County Emergency Management Coordinator, reported that the main concern of residents was water and county officials provided a large, sanitary water truck.
Jennifer Alonzo, marketing-sales coordinator for REC, said utility crews will be working through the weekend to restore power to most by Monday or Tuesday, Dec. 20 and 21. Outside crews with Gunnison County Electric Association, La Plata Electric Association, National Power Line and Tri-State assisted REC with an estimated 46 workers on scene.
SLVREC crews are still our continuing repairs. Tri-State and National Power crews are working on the transmission poles and were expected to have those completed by Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 21. The Gunnison and La Plata crews headed home Saturday morning, Dec. 18.
Due to limited supply issues, REC reached out to neighboring cooperatives and utilities to obtain supplies and poles which was slowing the restoration process.
In addition, County Road 12, south of County Road X, was closed due to dozens of poles down in the road.
There were other sporadic power outages across the Valley due to downed power lines and other damage from high winds, but most were restored, REC reported.