Thousands left in the dark as ice storms hits - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Thousands left in the dark as ice storms hits

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TYLER (KYTX) - Thousands all over east Texas have been without power. The counties with the most outages are Gregg and Smith County.

Oncor and electric crews from outside the area have been working all day to restore as much power as possible.

Pine trees are the main culprit. Oncor says, the weight of the ice on power lines is a lot, but factor in falling trees and branches, it's nearly inevitable, those lines are going to come down.

Frozen streets and frozen power lines, turned Smith County, into a powerless and frozen tundra. 

"We had to go stay in a motel, cause my electricity went out," said Dorothy Hornsby. 

She was one of the 13,000 in Smith County -- who at the peak of the ice storm-- was without electricity.

"This is the worst ice storm we've had in Tyler in the seven years that I've been here," said Oncor representative Charles Hill.

He said crews from Dallas/Fort Worth, Waco, and Lufkin just to name a few have been working non-stop to restore power.

However, in situations like this with constant ice forming and falling trees, work is a challenge.

"Most of the problems we've had this year, have been tree related, the pine trees get weighted down," said Hill.

Specialist say a quarter inch of ice on a power line adds about 500 pounds of weight per span.

Hill said, "When you have that much weight on a line and a tree limb falls on it, it really doesn't take much to take it down."

In addition to the ground crews, Oncor is expecting to get help from the air as well. A helicopter is being brought in.

"If we can get in the air and patrol our major circuits that really help us a lot to get a visual of the broken trees, and where the power lines are down," Hill said.

Hornsby doesn't have to wait anymore, her power is back on. Now she's waiting for warmer weather.

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