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Hurricane Michael Restoration Press Release — Monday Night, October 15, 2018

October 15, 2018

Wiregrass Electric concluded its fifth day of restoration efforts with 2,830 members without power.

WEC had 225 workers begin work early Monday morning and concluded Monday night. The cooperative began the day with more than 3,600 outages.

WEC has made great progress in the last five days by bringing the total outage number down from 18,000, but progress could slow some as crews begin working on single-phase lines. The single-phase lines and tap lines that deliver power to member’s transformers take the same amount of effort to repair as the three-phase and two-phase lines, but only restore power to a small number of homes. That’s why the “members without power” number reported over the next few days may fall at a much slower pace than it did in recent days.

WEC also wants to let members know that if their power has been restored and then goes off again that it is part of the restoration process.

“If your power goes out again, don’t panic,” says Kimbro. “In order to get other repairs made we are having to de-energize some lines so our crews can work safely. That will cause some members to lose power again, but it should not be off for an unreasonable amount of time.”

Kimbro stressed that WEC’s goal is to restore power quickly, but the main goal is to keep linemen and members safe through this process.

WEC also wants to express its thanks for all the cooperatives and companies who have sent help, as well as all the well wishes, kind words and prayers from its members.

In addition to all the crews that have come to assist, WEC would also like to thank its employees who have been working long hours for the last week to help get the power restored.

“Our own employees have done so much,” Kimbro says. “They have been away from their families a lot in the past week and many of them have damage where they live and don’t have power at their home. We also appreciate our employees’ families who have done so much for us this week. This has restoration effort has been a complete team effort.”

As of 4 p.m., WEC had the following outage numbers:

Columbia Substation – 581 members (59 percent out)
Slocomb Substation – 7 members (.01 percent out)
Burch Pond Substation – 1 member (.07 percent out)
Limestone Substation – 838 members (30 percent out)
Ashford Substation – 184 members (12 percent out)
Cottonwood Substation – 1,003 members (58 percent out)
Rehobeth Substation – 143 members (.07 percent out)

System Total Outage – 2,830 (Down from 18,000)

Follow this link to view a video slideshow of the damage our line crews are having to deal with: Hurricane Michael Recovery Video

Changes to 2018 Annual Meeting

In light of the massive restoration effort, WEC has decided to make changes to its annual meeting format.

The meeting will still take place on Friday, Oct. 19 but will be a quick abbreviated meeting.

“If members have already voted through our mail in process then they do not have to attend,” says Kimbro. “If members have not voted then they can come register and vote and then they may leave.”

The meeting will be moved from the warehouse location where it is normally held to the community room of the Hartford office.

“The warehouse where we normally hold the meeting will not be in a condition to have the meeting due to our active storm restoration efforts and safety concerns for members and the public,” says Kimbro.

Because WEC is a member owned cooperative the bylaws of the cooperative require that WEC hold an annual meeting.

Registration will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The business portion of the meeting will begin at noon with the agenda laid out in WEC’s bylaws. The business meeting will be brief and will be broadcast live on Facebook Live for members not in attendance.

Estimated outage times

The cooperative has released an Outage Prediction Map to help members estimate outage times. The map outlines the different areas of destruction the cooperative is encountering, as well as a guide for when members may expect restoration. The areas worst-hit by the hurricane are around Cottonwood, Columbia, Ashford, Rehobeth and Limestone.

This map’s goal is to give members an idea of when their power will be restored. Some will have power restored sooner than expected and some will have power restored later than expected.

The map is broken up into three shades of color:

BLUE — WEC has finished completing these areas of restoration.

GREEN — WEC has most of these areas restored. Some, however, will be Monday or Tuesday before they are repaired.

RED — This is what the cooperative is referring to as “ground zero,” where the heaviest winds and damage took place. The best-case scenario is that WEC will have power restored to most members in this area by Thursday, but Friday is more likely. It’s possible some people may not have power until the weekend.

“We encourage everyone in these zones to prepare and make arrangements accordingly,” said Kimbro. “We understand this is frustrating, but we want everyone to know we are working as quickly as possible given the massive amount of damage our system sustained. We hope everyone can view this map and make arrangements accordingly.”