Wiregrass Electric prepared to respond to Hurricane MichaelMatt Boster
Posted by: Matt Boster
Date: Oct 09 2018 4:54 PM
HARTFORD, Alabama — Wiregrass Electric Cooperative is on full alert as Hurricane Michael makes its way toward the Gulf Coast and Alabama.
“If this storm continues on its path, our system will likely experience extremely high winds, which could cause poles to break and outages to occur,” says WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “Our cooperative is prepared for this storm. We have a disaster recovery plan in place, and our employees are the best trained in our industry. Today, we have crews ready to react to this storm.”
If this hurricane’s track continues as predicted, Wiregrass could experience extended outages measured in days instead of hours.
“We will work to restore outages as quickly and safely as we possibly can,” says Kimbro. “However, we do ask for patience as recovery is underway. A hurricane can destroy in minutes what took months and sometimes years to build. When multiple poles are broken and trees are down, we have to rebuild this infrastructure from scratch. It can take time. We are praying for the best while also preparing for the worst.”
The storm is projected to make landfall on the Florida Gulf Coast near midday on Wednesday. WEC’s system is predicted to have sustained winds of 40 mph with Geneva County experiencing 50 to 60 mph sustained winds and Houston County with 70 to 100 mph sustained winds.
Other cooperatives throughout the nation stand ready to help WEC and other cooperatives affected by the storm. WEC has been in contact with Alabama Rural Electric Association’s Manager of Safety Michael Kelley who is coordinating crews to assist WEC’s restoration efforts. WEC has 100 linemen from sister cooperatives Sand Mountain, Marshall-DeKalb and Cherokee Electric Cooperatives coming to assist along with three warehouse workers and two additional right of way crews. WEC will also have its contracted crews and right of way crews available.
“We will have between 150 and 160 additional workers available to help us restore power to our members,” Kimbro says. “We will also have our support staff from dispatchers to customer service representatives available. We have a plan in place and we are prepared should this storm cause widespread outages.”
Members can report outages by calling 1-888-469-6882, and they can view an outage map by visiting wiregrass.coop/electric/outage/outage-map. They also can download our free mobile app.
WEC will also emphasize safety to its employees and its members.
“If the winds are higher than 35 mph, then our crews will not be working in the bucket trucks,” Kimbro says. “We will take all necessary safety precautions for our employees, and our members should do the same. Don’t ride around on the roads during the storm, and stay away from downed power lines. We urge everyone to prepare for this storm and to be weather aware.”
WEC urges members who will be using generators to be safe and follow all the correct steps. To view generator safety tips visit wiregrass.coop/community/safety/generator.
WEC’s offices will close Wednesday at noon for employee safety, and may not reopen on Thursday, depending on the damage. However, all employees will still be working to restore outages that may occur in the wake of this hurricane.