Hurricane Michael Restoration Press Release — Sunday Morning, October 14, 2018
Wiregrass Electric Cooperative has begun its fourth full day of restoration since Hurricane Michael caused 18,000 outages. More than 160 line workers began before dawn on Sunday morning continuing the effort to clear trees, move debris and rebuild the destroyed electric system.
Today, these workers from around the state will be joined by additional line workers and right-of-way crews to bring the total workforce to over 225. “This is a massive effort,” said Brad Kimbro, Chief Operating Officer at Wiregrass Electric Cooperative. “A small army of workers that includes our entire team is working from before dawn until late evenings to complete this monumental task.”
The cooperative has released an Outage Prediction Map to help members estimate outage times (attached). The map outlines the different areas of destruction the cooperative is encountering, as well as a guide for when members may expect restoration. The worst-hit areas by the hurricane center around Cottonwood, Columbia, Ashford, Rehobeth and Limestone. “Members in these areas will most likely be without power for several more days,” said Kimbro.
The map is broken up into three shades of color:
BLUE – WEC is finishing up in this area and should have service 100 percent restored within a day.
GREEN – WEC is working very hard in this area but the best-case scenario will be Monday or Tuesday before power is restored. For some in this area it could be later into next week.
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.”
Kimbro also reminded members that have medical needs to seek electricity immediately. “We are hearing from members that require oxygen or other assistance,” said Kimbro. “We urge these people to leave their homes and find electricity. Because of the realities of how severe this damage is, it’s just not possible to restore power to a single home quickly. Please, please get help and seek a place where you can use your assistive devices.”
As of 7 a.m., WEC had the following outage numbers:
Columbia Substation – 620 members
Slocomb Substation – 304 members
Burch Pond Substation – 99 members
Limestone Substation – 1,657 members
Ashford Substation – 891 members
Cottonwood Substation – 1,534 members
Rehobeth Substation – 1,003 members
System Total Outage – 6,431 (Down from 18,000)
Wiregrass Electric wants its members to know the following information:
The live outage map on WEC’s website is currently inaccurate. It is showing far more outages than actually exist. This map is a shared service across the nation, and with the hundreds of thousands of outages caused by Hurricane Michael, it has become overwhelmed.
Members can report outages by calling 888-469-6882 or by downloading the Wiregrass Electric mobile app. The WEC outage map is currently not accurate due to the effects of the storm. Members can receive updates by liking WEC’s Facebook page and by visiting wiregrass.coop/hurricane.
WEC’s administration line will also be manned throughout the weekend from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members can reach that line by calling 800-239-4602. This number should be used for non-outage related questions.
WEC strongly encourages members to stay far away from all downed power lines. Always assume a power line is energized and treat it with extreme caution. Approaching downed lines is never safe, even if your area is without power.
WEC wants to thank the cooperatives who have sent crews to help: Sand Mountain, Cherokee, Marshall-DeKalb, Baldwin, Central Alabama, Covington, Cullman, Joe Wheeler, North Alabama, Southern Pine and Tombigbee electric cooperatives.
The Outage Prediction Map is available on WEC’s hurricane response website: www.wiregrass.coop/hurricane. It is located under the “Resources” list. WEC also encourages every member to follow the Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Facebook page and check it for frequent updates.
WEC also wants to express its thanks for all the well wishes, kind words and prayers from its members.