Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

Public power utility crews assist with restoration efforts in wake of Zeta

Crews from several public power utilities deployed to assist with power restoration efforts in the wake of Hurricane Zeta, which made landfall as a hurricane and knocked out power to millions of customers in the Southeast.

“More than 2.5 million customers were without power Thursday morning after former Hurricane Zeta hit the Gulf Coast and rushed inland,” CNN reported on Oct. 29.

Zeta made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 storm Wednesday before weakening to a tropical storm, CNN reported, with sustained winds of 50 mph as of 11 a.m. ET Thursday.

Zeta’s “strong winds caused widespread power outages in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia,” the New York Times reported.

Florida’s Orlando Utilities Commission on Oct. 28 reported that it was sending a power restoration team to Fairhope, Ala., for the second time in a month to aid the city’s municipal utility.

An OUC crew left Orlando as Zeta approached the Louisiana-Alabama coastline. “This deployment marks an unprecedented fourth mutual aid trip in just two months,” OUC noted in a news release.

In each previous deployment, OUC sent 12 employees eager to help others in need, the Florida utility said.

The most recent came Oct. 9 when Hurricane Delta hit an already battered southwest Louisiana. Two days later, OUC line crews began restoring power to the residents of Lafayette, La. They returned home Oct. 17.

Delta made landfall near the same area Hurricane Laura tore through on Aug. 27. OUC’s first deployment of the hyperactive hurricane season lasted 14 days as that team worked in the cities of Alexandria and Winnfield.

Between the trips to Louisiana, OUC, on Sept. 16, sent another 12-member contingent to Fairhope, Ala., to repair the city’s grid after Hurricane Sally knocked out power to 22,000 residents. In 2017, a line crew from Fairhope’s small utility traveled to Orlando to help OUC recover from Hurricane Irma.

In keeping with OUC’s COVID-19 precautions, field crews observe social distancing and practice enhanced safety and sanitization protocols.

Meanwhile, Louisiana public power utility Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) reported in an Oct. 29 tweet that it sent mutual aid crews “early this morning to help restore power to our friends in Houma, La. after Hurricane Zeta."

LUS noted that the last time “we were in Houma was in 2008 after Hurricane Gustav.”

The following public power utilities from Alabama were deployed to assist with restoration efforts:

  • Dothan Utilities
  • City of Troy Utilities
  • Utilities Board of Andalusia
  • Sheffield Utilities
  • Russellville Electric Board

The following public power utilities from Georgia were deployed to assist with restoration efforts:

  • Thomasville
  • Albany
  • Forsyth
  • Blakely
  • Fort Valley
  • Crisp Co.
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