Continuing storms delay recovery
Published 1:05 pm Saturday, June 17, 2023
Recovery efforts advanced in the sunshine of Friday afternoon, but in the wake of late night storms, utility providers reported setbacks in electricity service restoration Saturday morning.
A line of severe thunderstorms prompted warnings beginning around 7:30 p.m. Friday, causing fresh debris, downed trees, new power outages, and flooding in some areas.
Around 7 a.m., Pioneer Electric Cooperative representatives took to social media to let members know restoration progress and new outage information.
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“It was a rough night for us,” said Pioneer Communications Director Christi Scruggs. “The weather caused lots of trees and limbs to fall on our lines – not to mention a car accident that caused outages as well. Because this is our third severe weather event since Wednesday, there are lots of dangling limbs that fall after the fact. Plus, the ground is saturated, so trees fall more easily. None of this helps when it comes to power restoration, but our army of linemen is out in full force. Crews are being sent all over our nine-county service area. Sometimes they have to work their way into an area because power is served from a different direction, so you may not see crews in your immediate area. We promise we’re coming!”
Roughly 1,227 Pioneer members remained without power at noon Saturday – 407 in Butler County, 18 in Crenshaw County, and 113 in Lowndes County.
Alabama Power reported 5,794 statewide customers awaiting restoration – 1 in Butler County, 6 in Crenshaw County, and 231 in Lowndes County.
Butler County Emergency Management Agency Director Rosie Till announced Saturday that the First Assembly of God shelter would close Sunday morning at 8 a.m. Red Cross lunch distributions continued starting at 1:30 p.m. for Georgiana at The Hank Williams Pavillion on Rose Street and at the Lowndes County Fort Deposit Town Park located at 115 Gilmer Hill Road.
By noon, 167 Crenshaw County power customers remained without service. South Alabama Electric Cooperative reported 150 outages Saturday morning, and by noon 1,007 members, of whom 148 live in Crenshaw County, waited for crews to restore their electricity.
“The storms were not kind to us last night and increased our outage numbers,” said utility representatives on social media. “We currently have 150 outages and 1,660 members without power. Please pray for a safe and productive day for everyone out working to restore your power.”
The U.S. National Weather Service in Birmingham predicted the possibility of severe weather in parts of central Alabama, including Lowndes County, through Monday. The weather was expected to include damaging winds and large hail along with localized flooding.
The agency’s Mobile office also forecast several more rounds of severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall through the weekend, including the possibility of damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes for south Alabama counties such as Crenshaw and Butler.
Scruggs said power restoration means linemen become loggers, working hard to get trees cleared, lines repaired, and power back on quickly and safely. Crews from sister cooperatives joined the effort and around noon Saturday, Scruggs released answers to questions frequently asked during prolonged outages.
- Why does my neighbor have power and I don’t? Power systems have three “phases” (the three lines on top of poles), and residents may be served off a different phase than their neighbor. Or they may be served by a “tap” that has not been put back in service. A line could also have a different fuse or breaker from a neighbor’s. A home’s main breaker may be flipped, or homeowners may have damage to their home’s electrical equipment. If that’s the case – call a professional.
- Why does my outage not show up on the outage map? An outage map is a great tool for members to track progress, but it doesn’t accurately show every individual account. Dispatch control systems have access to thousands of data points, including your meters, and that’s the system used to track outages. Customers or members can call their provider to ensure the outage is reported.
- Why haven’t I seen crews in my area? Crews are out working all across Pioneer’s system of 2,700 miles of line. Other providers are working to restore customers across their service area. Lines that serve neighborhoods originate miles away from homes. Problems down the line have to be fixed before crews can reach a specific area.
- What’s taking so long to restore power? There are a LOT of trees and limbs on lines that have to be removed. Unfortunately, that’s a slow process. Tree limbs knocked loose by previous storms could fall anytime, even in areas already cleared. The ground is saturated, so trees will fall more easily. Crews are out in full force and have devoted all available resources to restoring power.
Residents can monitor weather conditions over the weekend by following the U.S. National Weather Service in Mobile or Birmingham on social media. Citizens can also gain power outage information by visiting www.poweroutage.us.
To report power outages or check restoration progress, contact the local power provider or check outage maps at the following websites.
- Alabama Power – www.outagemap.alabama.com
- Pioneer Electric – www.maps.pioneerelectric.com
- Southeast Alabama Electric Cooperative – www.omsviewer.southaec.com
- Covington Electric Cooperative – www.outage.cov-elect.com
- Dixie Electric Cooperative – www.outagemap.dixie.coop
- Central Alabama Electric Cooperative – www.outage.caec.com