Recovery took all hands on deck, including yours
HURRICANE PREPARATIONS WENT into effect before the winds of Hurricane Florence
were felt anywhere on the South Carolina coast.
Hurricane Florence began hitting us on Thursday, September 13. In anticipation of possible impact on our system, our storm plan went into effect as soon as it began to look like Florence might possibly head our way. Equipment was checked, supplies were secured, manpower was lined up and we finalized arrangements with our statewide association, The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
We put our communications plan for major weather events into play and began communicating with members. We advised members who needed electricity for medical equipment to evacuate, and we warned that outages could last multiple days.
Flo went into slo-mo
The first confirmed outage was at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday. Crews worked that evening until wind speeds forced them back inside to wait out the storm. Wind speeds above 35 mph prevent crews from doing any bucket work.
More than 32,000 members were in the dark as high winds and heavy rains knocked out power. That’s nearly half of our members.
We caught a real break when the storm’s eye passed through our area. The winds actually died down and the storm slowed down. Repair crews, who were waiting for conditions to be deemed safe enough to work, took advantage of the opportunity. Relief crews were activated.
The storm still raged, but not to the degree crews couldn’t work. The storm was still dumping heavy rain, but the wind speeds hovered just under the limits that prevent crews from working. There were tornado warnings, but that didn’t slow crews down for even a minute.
The day started with 32,000 members out of power, but we ended it with all but 7,000 restored. By the end of the second day, the number was down to 250.
At 5:23 p.m. on Monday, September 17, everyone who was able to receive service had power restored.
As of the writing of this column, we’re waiting on the full impact of Florence Part II. She has dumped a lot of rain in her path. We’ve released all of the crews from sister cooperatives, and the contract crews that aren’t part of our everyday workload have returned to their locations.
We had as many hard hats, bucket trucks and service trucks out in the field as we could safely manage. All they needed to keep them going were prayer, patience and understanding.
That’s where you, our members, made a difference. In all of my years of working storms, this has to have been the most interesting. Power was restored in record time, and the outpouring of support from our members through our three social media channels was
overwhelming. We had three channels running and you ran right along with us. The crews also tell me that members were waving, honking and shouting “THANK YOU” while they were working the lines. You kept them going. You were an inspiration.
On behalf of all of us at Horry Electric–THANK YOU. When we said “all hands on deck,” you added your hands and your hearts. We felt it, and working cooperatively, we put our co-op back together. What a team!