Utica store faces thousands in losses, ‘unreal’ smell after power outage spoils groceries

Residents of Utica were without power for two days

UTICA, Neb. (KLKN) – Power lines were still down in Utica on Thursday morning, two days after a severe hailstorm hit the area.

Residents had been without air conditioner and refrigeration due to the storms.

“It’s been really hot,” Utica resident Casey Rempel said.

Power was restored to the area about 6:30 P.M. Thursday, according to the Norris Public Power District.

Utica is a village about 40 miles west of Lincoln.

Rempel said he had been taking walks to get out of the heat.

Inside of his home, the lights were off and his refrigerator was down.

He tried to save as much food as he can in a cooler but estimates that he lost $150 worth of food.

“We were able to go get some ice in Seward,” Rempel said. “But yeah, it’s been rough. I didn’t expect it to be out this long.”

It’s not like he can go to the only grocery store in town, Pac N Save, either.

“The smell is, it’s unreal,” Pac N Save human resources manager Jennifer Koranda said.

The aisles of the store smell of spoiled food that will have to be disposed of before the store reopens.

“We’ve lost thousands of dollars because we’re talking everything from produce to your dairy, fresh meat, frozen, it’s all gone,” Koranda said.

She’s hopeful that the store will be able to reopen its doors by the weekend.

“When we get power back, we will be able to get the refrigeration, we got to get it all cleaned,” Koranda said. “Everything’s got to get cooled back down, frozen, and then we will be able to put product back on the shelf.”

Trevor Wehrer, Norris Public Power District’s manager of operations, has been working hard to make sure that happens as quickly as possible.

“We’re the first ones out here, you know, trying to restore power to them trying to put them back in their normal lives,” he said.

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