TALLADEGA – Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative asks consumers and workers to take extreme caution while efforts are being made to recover and restore services.
By Sunday morning, CVEC crews had only 300 consumers still remaining without power. Long hours and assistance from other cooperatives in Alabama, Tennessee and North and South Carolina sped the restoration process considerably.
“We are restoring a lot of areas and making good progress, but we see the potential for accidents now increasing,” said Leland Fuller, CVEC general manager. “A lot of the areas where we are re-energizing lines, there are still a lot of relief and recovery workers. We ask that they remember to look up and be aware that those power lines may be energized. The outpouring of support has been tremendous, and we don’t want to see anymore loss of life.”
In the Ohatchee area along Alabama Highway 77 near the Willow Point subdivision, an army of workers is clearing the remnants of homes, trailers and other structures in some locations and where homes are still standing, trees and tree limbs.
“The restoration of power can speed the recovery efforts and restore basic services such as water and sewer service if they have to rely on pumps,” Mr. Fuller said.
Mr. Fuller added that he has heard a lot of generators running in these areas as well. He asks that people who are using generators to please either hook the appliances they want to power directly to the generator or if they are hooking the generator into their home’s wiring, they need to trip the main breaker off to avoid feeding electricity back onto the power lines.
“Generators are great in circumstances like the one we are in, but they pose a threat to our line workers,” Mr. Fuller said. “If not done properly, they can send electricity back onto the lines and get one of our workers killed. Please remember to take safety into consideration when using a generator.”
Coosa Valley Electric is urging its consumers to heed the following guidelines while restoration efforts are underway. Inspect around your home, even looking out your windows before venturing outside, to search for downed power lines as well as other dangers, including unstable structures, trees and tree limbs.
Please do not attempt to repair TV antennas or other structures and/or fixtures around your home until the appropriate arrangements can be made with your power provider. Power service to your home should be disconnected from the pole to allow safe repairs. This includes gutters and work with any ladders on or near the home. Due to the volume of outages, your power provider will not be able to turn off your power for several days. Please remain patient as CVEC works to restore service to all of those who have suffered outages.
· Stay away from fallen power lines. Assume that any power line is conducting electricity. During the storm, call CVEC ONLY to report an emergency, such as downed, sparking power lines (1-800-273-7210).
· If you have a chain-link fence, inspect the entire fence carefully. Downed power lines can energize entire fence lines and severely injure or kill anyone who touches them. If you fence connects to a neighbor’s fence, be sure to check it out as well.
· Extensive and prolonged power outages are expected in hardest hit areas. Information about restoration efforts will be provided as soon as it is available. Again, call Coosa Valley Electric only to report emergencies.
· Call 1-800-273-7210 to report power outages and electrical hazards.
When severe weather causes power outages, employees of Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative begin working immediately to restore service as quickly as possible. Primary lines serving hundreds of customers are serviced first, then the secondary lines serving just a few customers. Medical facilities and individuals on life-support systems are given top priority.
Outages that occur in severe weather, or that last for an extended period of time, can place a heavy burden on the system at the moment power is restored. To prevent an overload on the system and possibly another outage, take these steps:
· Turn off all inside lights except one.
· Set your thermostat at a higher temperature in warm weather.
· If the outage lasts more than 60 minutes, turn off your electric water heater.
· Make sure your kitchen range is off, both the surface and the oven. Never use it for heat, especially if it is gas.
· Turn off all unnecessary appliances.
· Avoid opening the freezer door. A full, freestanding freezer will keep food at freezing temperatures about 2 days; a half-full freezer about 1 day. For more information about food safety during and after a power outage, call your county office of the cooperative extension service, or dial the USDA Food Safety Hotline at 1-800-535-4555.
· If you see a downed power line, STAY AWAY!! And call the CVEC Hazard Hotline at 1-800-273-7210 at once!
· Leave your porch light on so CVEC workers will know when your power has been restored.
· When power comes back on, slowly switch on your appliances and lights and gradually return your thermostat to its normal setting.
Coosa Valley Electric, which serves more than 17,000 customers in Talladega, St. Clair, Shelby, Clay, Etowah and Calhoun counties, is a Touchstone Energy® cooperative. Nationwide, some 1,000 cooperatives provide power to rural America, and 670 of those operate under the Touchstone Energy umbrella.