Community Electric Cooperative prepares for potential impacts of Hurricane Ian

Published 10:14 am Friday, September 30, 2022

 Community Electric Cooperative (CEC) is closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Ian as it moves north from Florida, preparing to respond quickly and safely to its potential impacts on the electric system. 

Line technicians have prepped trucks with all necessary supplies and materials for any outages that may occur as a result of the massive storm. System operators are monitoring the cooperative’s power system and weather on a 24-hour basis, and all other employees are on standby, ready to respond to member needs, including the cooperative’s member service contact center. CEC also is working closely with the mid-Atlantic region’s cooperative association, the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, to have backup resources on standby for potential assistance and to be ready to receive or deploy help as needed and able. 

“While we are not expecting extraordinarily severe impacts from the remnants of Ian when it reaches Virginia, this coordination will prove helpful should the storm cause extensive outages that require the deployment of out-of-state support personnel,” said Jonathan Thompson, CEC’s Chief Operations Officer. 

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Community Electric urges members to make preparations now to remain safe and comfortable in the event of an outage. 

How You Can Prepare: 

● Assemble an emergency kit. It should include at least a three-day supply of water, non-perishable food, medication, first aid supplies, a flashlight, weather radio and extra batteries. Include a list of emergency contacts. 

● Charge your cell phone and have external, backup power sources charged. 

● Develop an evacuation plan in case it’s needed. Communicate the plan to your family. Include pets or livestock in your plan. 

● Secure outdoor items. Safely store lawn furniture, decorations, toys, garbage cans and other items that can be brought indoors. 

● Close windows and doors in the event of high winds. 

● Fuel up. Fill up your vehicles before the storm as a loss of power could affect gas stations. 

● Consider having supplies handy for your propane or charcoal grill. Be sure to grill outdoors in well ventilated areas for safety. 

Keep all devices charged in order to report an outage via the SmartHub app. 

If need be, keep CEC’s outage reporting number handy: 757-242-6181. 

As a reminder, if heavy rains and strong winds lead to downed lines, stay away! Contact with downed lines can be dangerous, even deadly. Report downed power lines to CEC at 757-242-6181 or call 911 immediately. 

“Given that Ian’s projected path currently has it moving into western Virginia, stronger winds and heavier rain would be a welcome outcome compared to the devastation this storm already has caused,” said Glen Presson, CEC’s Manager of Operations. “But because safety is our first priority, we will not deploy response teams in hazardous conditions. We absolutely will respond to all outages as soon as conditions are safe.” 

Please note: 

● Assessing damage and estimating when members will have power restored could take 24 hours or longer after the worst of the storm has moved through the area. 

● With high winds and excessive water, it is common to see significant flooding and downed trees. CEC has a robust vegetation management system in place to minimize impacts to the distribution system, but severe weather typically causes disruptions despite this work. 

● Downed trees often necessitate utility poles as well as power lines, prolonging efforts to restore service. 

● Line crews are restricted from working on overhead power lines during adverse weather conditions, such as thunderstorms in the immediate vicinity, and sustained winds of 35 miles per hour (30 mph if the work involves installing or replacing materials). 

Community Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Windsor, is a not-for-profit member-owned energy provider that serves nearly 12,000 homes, farms and businesses in the counties of Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry, and Sussex and the City of Suffolk. For more information, go to www.comelec.coop.