JUST IN: State of Emergency for Teton Village

By on February 9, 2017

Steel electrical poles along Highway 390 pummeled by 90 mph winds Tuesday. #GotWindEnergy? (Photo: Lower Valley Energy)

[Update, 4:30 p.m. Thursday: Resort officials are reporting some headway as a major effort to restore area power ensues. From JHMR’s Anna Cole: “Today a great deal of progress was made by Lower Valley Energy and they are currently installing new power poles along Highway 390. Twenty-five additional crew members from five different cities have been working around the clock to get power back to Teton Village.”

Ski patrollers conducted avalanche mitigation work on the mountain earlier today and saw ample movement, Cole noted.  She says they will continue with mitigation work daily throughout the closure. The resort is still anticipating a Monday opening.

At this time resort officials are strictly enforcing no uphill travel on the mountain.]

***

[Update, 2:15 p.m. Thursday: On the heels of a state of emergency declaration for Teton Village, in the town of Jackson more damage has been reported. Part of the roof just collapsed at the Teton County Sheriff’s Office. From Srgt. Matt Car: “From a law-enforcement perspective, it doesn’t affect anything. Still, folks answering phones just don’t want people walking in. There is metal piping all over and you can’t physically get into the building. It’s like a war zone right now.”

Carr said it’s still business as usual for TCSO but that people should avoid the area for now. “Just don’t come in for a VIN check today.”]

***

JACKSON HOLE, WY — A state of emergency has been declared for Teton Village and surrounding areas following Tuesday’s storm that downed 17 steel electrical poles and stripped power from thousands of residents, JHMR, Teton Village businesses, and Jackson Hole Airport. The state of emergency does not affect most of the valley. In addition to Teton Village, the impacted areas include John Dodge, Shooting Star, Bar B Bar, Ellen Creek, Lake Creek Ranches and Poker Flats. The town of Jackson is still operating as normal.

The declaration—in effect until Monday—serves to provide “official recognition by the county commissioners of all the problems our community is dealing with,” explained Rich Ochs, Teton County emergency management coordinator.

In addition to the power outage, those problems include stormy weather, treacherous roadway conditions and avalanche and flooding risks that have prompted several road closures.

Ochs said the declaration gives emergency management and utility crews time and space to make all appropriate reparations caused by the storm. It also may help with insurance claims.

Response teams are working to restore power to affected areas, which may not have electricity until Monday. Skiers and snowboarders are biding their time until then, when JHMR is expected to reopen after closing down Wednesday. It is the resort’s first multi-day closure since 1986.

Ochs, JHMR and several organizations worked together Wednesday to transfer Teton Village hotel guests to vacant rooms in the town of Jackson. Though there is no official evacuation order for Teton Village, many hotels and business have closed indefinitely and people are advised to avoid traveling to the Village until further notice. While Highway 390 is open, Wyoming Department of Transportation has issued a “no unnecessary travel” advisory to allow utility crews to safely carry out their work.

Cars, buses and planes

Access to the valley is still hampered, forcing Idaho and Star Valley commuters who are stranded in Jackson to camp on couches or stay in hotel rooms, while other members of the commuting workforce haven’t shown up to work their jobs in Jackson since Monday. Teton Pass and Hoback and Snake River Canyons are all closed for avalanche control. Teton Pass, closed since early Tuesday morning, will remain closed until Saturday. WYDOT crews expect to open the canyons Friday after 8 a.m.

Road closures have also impacted START Bus operations. Due to a shortage of drivers, all busses servicing Teton Village have converted to Green Line service until further notice. Busses will be dispatched every 20 to 30 minutes. Bus locators and schedules are available at StartBus.com.

START Bus announced yesterday it will waive fares for all bus services today through Sunday.

Meanwhile, at the airport—which is still running off generator power—three flights canceled today. Airport director Jim Elwood says operations are running as smooth as possible, all things considered.

He noted a handful of flights were delayed for departure yesterday morning, but backup power generators “kept impacts relatively small.”

Elwood did report one incident of a wind gust blowing a parked plane more than 45 degrees from its parked position. “That’s not an everyday occurrence,” he said. “It speaks to the intensity of the wind that has caused these issues.”

The airport is providing lodging in town for stranded staff members to ensure they have adequate staff “to operate key roles at the airport,” Elwood said.

Despite the mass exodus from Teton Village, Elwood hasn’t noticed any dramatic changes in flight plans. He reminds visitors and residents that anyone trying to make changes to their itinerary should do so directly with the airlines. He said airlines have been understanding and have allowed for some flexibility around flight changes.

Elwood hopes to see a “broader, community-wide sense of normalcy” in the next few days.

County commissioners will hold a special public meeting to discuss the emergency declaration 9 a.m. tomorrow. Details are available at TetonWyo.org.

Stay tuned to The Planet for updates to this story.

 

Comments

comments


About Shannon Sollitt

You must be logged in to post a comment Login