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Many Nebraskans Still Without Power

October 31, 1997

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Some of the thousands of people in Nebraska’s largest cities grew angry and impatient as they waited for crews to bring electricity back to homes that have been without power since Sunday.

``I’m about ready to snap someone’s head off,″ 61-year-old Jo Schutte said as she waited for power to be restored in her Omaha home.

About 25,000 electric customers _ mostly in Omaha and Lincoln _ coped for a fifth day without power Thursday because of an October snowstorm that swept the Plains and was blamed for 17 deaths in seven states. At the peak of outages Sunday, at least 150,000 customers in the state were without power.

Power company officials say electricity may not be restored to everyone until early next week.

To speed along cleanup efforts while the weather cooperates, state employees will be allowed to spend the day Friday cutting down trees and hauling away debris instead of reporting to work.

The employees will work alongside hundreds of Nebraska National Guard troops which will be called up for duty to assist in the effort.

Omaha Public Power District spokeswoman Delores Jacobberger said most customers are overjoyed to see crews arrive, but some have resorted to name-calling when workers are unable to fix the problem and have to leave.

``Then they become a little more angry at the crew,″ she said. ``For the most part the crews say the customers have been really understanding.″

Mrs. Schutte and her husband, Aug, had not completely lost their sense of humor. ``The most frustrating thing now is all the snow melted and we have to buy ice cubes if we want a cold beer,″ she said.

While the Schuttes tough it out at home, many others are staying with friends who have heat, checking into local motels or seeking out Red Cross run shelters.

Meantime, about 12,400 telephone customers in Omaha and Lincoln still did not have a dial tone Thursday. U S West said it could be mid-November before service is completely restored to customers in Omaha.

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