Hurricane Florence Power Restoration

Fifty-four linemen from twelve Ohio electric cooperatives spent a week assisting with power restoration for South River EMC and Lumbee River EMC in North Carolina, two cooperatives severely impacted by Hurricane Florence. The Energy Cooperative sent crew leader Terry Erwin, and Linemen Trevor Berry; Marcus Gause; and John Wilson. Our crew departed Utica very early on a Saturday morning heading to Lumbee River EMC. They left with a bucket truck, a digger derrick and a pole trailer. When our crew arrived at Lumbee River, 35,000 of their 60,000 members were in the dark.

While the restoration process in other areas of the state seemed relatively straight forward, Lumbee River faced considerable adversity as flooding in the area worsened.

The flooding was devastating. Many roadways were closed, and crews had to find alternate routes to access the work sites to restore power.

Lumbee River’s outage management system, automated meter infrastructure, and SCADA systems were also initially offline.This created difficulty obtaining the precise number and location of outages. By Tuesday, Lumbee River’s outage map stood at 10,964 members without power (less than 20% of their total membership). In addition to the difficulties created by flooded roads, fuel scarcity created a significant hurdle. Many gas stations ran out of diesel fuel, and others were only able to accept cash (due to the widespread internet outages). Layered on top of those difficult conditions were temperatures in the mid-90s with very high humidity.

Throughout the restoration effort, Ohio linemen were commended for their adherence to high safety standards. Our crews did not deviate from our normal work practices. Safety is always number one, regardless if we are working at home or restoring power in another part of the country.

By late Thursday evening, Lumbee River’s outages were down to a manageable level, and Ohio’s crews were notified they would be released the next morning. By 7:30 a.m. on Friday, all Ohio linemen assisting Lumbee River had departed for home. The Energy Cooperative thanks our crew for their hard work and diligence in North Carolina, and know Lumbee River’s members appreciate having their lights turned back on!