Power companies readying for Hurricane Florence

September 13, 2018

Power and utility companies are steadily preparing for Hurricane Florence’s landfall, which is expected near the end of this week.

The Aiken Electric Cooperative is getting ready for the hurricane while keeping the 2014 ice storm in mind, the cooperative’s CEO, Gary Stooksbury, said Wednesday.

“All of our personnel inside and outside the office have assigned tasks and things to do,” Stooksbury said, later adding: “We are as prepared, I think, as we could be at this stage. It is very fluid.”

Hurricane Florence is surging toward the Carolinas as a Category 3 storm. Florence was for several days a Category 4 storm.

During a Wednesday briefing, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster warned of inland dangers – localized flooding and maybe more rain than what Hurricane Hugo brought. Experts anticipate Florence will take a southern dive and stall over the state.

Stooksbury said the Aiken Electric Co-op’s storm restoration plan is in full effect.

“Every time that hurricane moves,” he said, “we have to react to what’s happening.”

The cooperative – which serves a western chunk of South Carolina, including Aiken and Edgefield counties – has been working with other cooperatives across the state and has ordered additional materials ahead of the storm.

Mutual aid agreements with “a lot” of southern states also exist, Stooksbury said, and the exact logistics are being finalized.

“We are anticipating what we think we will need,” the CEO said.

At least 500 lineworkers have either arrived in or are on their way to South Carolina to assist the cooperatives, according to a Wednesday press release. Another 250 out-of-state lineworkers are on standby.

South Carolina Electric & Gas, meanwhile, has nearly 2,900 personnel ready to respond to outages, according to a company statement issued Wednesday.

That count includes lineworkers and damage assessors.

“Having the additional resources on standby and ready to go is essential to restoring power to our customers,” SCE&G Vice President of Operations Bill Turner said in a prepared statement. “We’re going to work as safely and as quickly as possible.”

SCE&G maintains more than 18,000 miles of distribution lines, both above and below ground.

Both SCE&G and the Aiken Electric Co-op are urging customers to be prepared: stock up on water, non-perishable food, batteries and flashlights, for example.

“I just hope people take heed,” Stooksbury said. “If you don’t really need to be out and about, you need to stay in and be prepared.”

Power outages can be reported by phone or online at 888-333-4465 or sceg.com/outages-emergencies for SCE&G; and 877-264-5368 or aikenco-op.org/report-outage for the cooperative.

Outages for both companies can be checked online.

Stooksbury did not have a predicted outage figure on Wednesday, but he did say power restoration might take a day or two.

“We certainly understand our customers’ frustration,” he said.

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