Bringing back the power

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Selma Times-Journal

After bracing for another Hurricane Ivan, Alabama’s power companies got a welcome break when Hurricane Dennis did not live up to predictions.

Still, Dennis managed to down limbs, trees and knock power out for many area residents, a situation Alabama Power and Pioneer Electric quickly moved to fix.

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Alabama Power spokesperson Jan Ellis said workers were on the job in Selma yesterday, but today they will be here in full force.

Ellis said that in the Montgomery area restoration should be complete by today.

Still, according to Wilhite, the damage could have been worse.

Wilhite said that Hurricane Ivan – which hit Selma 10 months ago – probably weeded out some of the weaker trees and limbs, leaving less for Dennis to ravage.

Ellis said for Dennis the outages have been more scattered than Ivan.

Ellis said that at the height of the storm, the Selma area has about 12,500 homes without power.

In Alabama Power’s Southern Division – including Perry, Dallas, Wilcox, Autauga, Lowndes, Butler, Elmore, Montgomery, Macon, Lee, Bullock, Pike and Crenshaw counties and parts of Chilton County – there were 18,655 outages.

Alabama Power has restored service to more than 75 percent of customers who lost power during Hurricane Dennis. As of 8:30 p.m. Monday 55,408 customers remained without power statewide, down from a peak of 241,214

Locally, Pioneer Electric had fewer homes out, but it was a higher percentage.

Alabama Power announced that an additional 3,500 workers from 17 states have committed to assist 2,300 Alabama Power employees in restoration efforts.

Alabama Power’s primary storm restoration concern is to focus on critical health and human services such as hospitals, fire and police. In the case of widespread outages, the company is committed to restoring power to the most customers in the least time.

Wilhite added that the lessons learned from Ivan helped Pioneer improve their service. &8220;We are always reevaluating the response to our storm efforts. We work extremely hard to second guess ourselves,&8221; he said. &8220;I think part of the scenario of Hurricane Dennis is we learned so much from Ivan. Even back to Opal we learned a significant amount.&8221;

Alabama Power offers these guidelines for dealing with power outages:

SAFETY FIRST! Always assume a downed power line is live. Stay away from downed lines. Warn others to do the same. Beware of lines that are touching a vehicle. Stay away from the vehicle and the line. Do not drive over power lines lying on the road, and do not drive under low hanging lines. Keep children and pets away from downed lines.

Do not attempt to remove tree limbs or anything else caught in power lines. Call Alabama Power at 800-888-APCO (2726) or a local law enforcement agency if downed lines are spotted.

Customers who are using generators during the outage are reminded to never use a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can lead to illness or death.

Do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring.

This can cause serious injury to you and to Alabama Power employees working on the lines in your neighborhood.

Connect only essential appliances – such as freezers and refrigerators – directly to the generator.

If your power is off, make sure you turn off your appliances to avoid any potential safety hazards when the power is restored.

Keep freezer doors closed and sealed. Well-filled freezers keep most foods frozen for two to three days if the door is kept closed.

Alabama Power crews will work as fast as safety allows. Before neighborhood lines can be repaired, crews must first repair larger lines that bring power to the neighborhoods.