Disaster Response
Community

The spirit of public power shines through the storms

The trail of devastation caused by Hurricane Michael continues to dominate the news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia who are struggling to rebuild their homes and lives after tremendous loss and suffering.

We want to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work done by public power utilities in the affected areas to restore electricity in the most challenging conditions. Approximately 200,000 customers of dozens of public power utilities in six states lost power after Hurricane Michael ripped through their communities. Distribution as well as transmission was down in many areas. Today, a little over week after the storm, more than 95 percent of customers have been restored.

We especially want to thank the many public power utilities that provided mutual aid to utilities near and far — the recovery to date would not have been possible without this significant assistance. Once again, the public power community across the country has come together to do what it does best — help in times of the greatest need.

As the public power national mutual aid network was activated for Michael, public power utilities from more than 20 states offered more than 4,000 personnel, along with trucks and equipment. Many of these individuals are now returning home or redeploying to help other utilities after working up to 16-hour days in hazardous conditions to turn the lights back on.

Special thanks to our Mutual Aid Working Group that convened by conference call every day — starting before Hurricane Michael made landfall — to assess needs and channel help. A big shoutout to our regional mutual aid coordinators — Amy Zubaly (FL), Jon Hand (AL), Jon Beasley (GA), Brandon Wiley (GA), Jimmy Bagley (SC), Neil James (SC), Kenny Roberts (NC), Gregg Welch (NC), and Brian O'Dell (VA).

Hurricane Michael struck just weeks after Hurricane Florence tore through the Carolinas in mid-September, causing a wave of power outages, heavy rainfall, and severe flooding. Florence was the first major challenge of the 2018 hurricane season for the electric grid and public power passed with flying colors. Public power crews from several states headed to the Carolinas days before Florence made landfall, allowing for quick power restoration.

The work of restoration is far from done in the communities affected by both storms. In some public power communities such as Blountstown, Florida, the transmission must be reenergized and the electric system rebuilt before power can be restored. In other areas, people have to rebuild or make repairs to their homes before they can get power. We continue to monitor the situation to see how we can help and know it could be a long haul.

The Incident Management Team here at the American Public Power Association has been running full steam since mid-September, when a Mutual Aid Playbook activation level 3 began for Florence. We will not rest until we are sure all our members' needs have been met.

We are especially grateful to the Department of Energy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal government partners and our electricity industry partners for their support. We have ensured unity of effort and message through daily calls and visits.

Our online storm center continues to provide daily updates and resources (for utilities and customers) from us, our members, and the federal government.

While we know we won't be able to document the entirety of the public power restoration and mutual aid effort in response to Hurricane Michael, we wanted to share a few examples from member social media posts.

Thank you for all you do to serve our national public power community.

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