Covington Electric Cooperative’s disaster response team is preparing for possible impact from Hurricane Michael, which is predicted to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle later today.
CEC has taken the necessary steps to ensure its employees are prepared to safely respond to power outages if the hurricane impacts its service territory. The co-op is closely monitoring the storm and expects some power outages, particularly on the east side of CEC’s system in Coffee and Geneva counties.
“Our priority is to restore power as quickly and safely as possible as soon as conditions permit us to do so,” says Ed Short, CEC General Manager. “Because most of our power lines run through wooded rural areas, co-op members are especially vulnerable to hurricane conditions. Heavy rains soften the ground and root systems give way when high winds hit. Uprooted trees then crash down onto power lines causing outages,” he said.
The power restoration process is conducted on a priority basis established by emergency services officials. First, service will be re-established to substations and the main distribution lines. Then crews go street-by–street and home-by-home restoring service. This can be time-consuming and requires patience and understanding on the part of the members. Cooperation is critical to the success of the electrical restoration process. People who depend on electricity for health-related issues, should make plans now in the event of a prolonged power outage.
Utilizing the cooperation among cooperatives principle, CEC will request help from unaffected cooperatives within the state if it is hard hit by the storm according to Short. “Cooperatives always help one another during natural disasters and it’s reassuring to know we have highly qualified personnel to assist us during times of need,” says Short. “We also have contract crews staged nearby and ready to provide immediate restoration assistance. If CEC is not significantly impacted by this storm, we are prepared to send one of our crews to provide help to a neighboring cooperative in Alabama or another Gulf Coast state,” he added.
Electric cooperative officials remind people to always stay away from downed or sagging power lines. All downed power lines should be treated as if they were energized and potentially deadly. People seeing a downed power line should stay away from it and report it to the local electric cooperative or 911.
Generator safety is also a major concern during prolonged power outages. “We urge people to always carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions for using a portable generator. Improper use of a generator can be deadly to the homeowner and to the people restoring your power. CEC has posted generator safety tips online through our Facebook page and website,” says Short.
The CEC offices will close at 11 a.m., on Wednesday, October 10, for normal business. Offices should reopen on Thursday morning at regular business hours. Members should call 1-800-239-1193 or use the free CEC app to report power outages.