By Friday, Alabama Power Company had gotten the vast majority of its Mobile County customers back on the grid in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally. However, some households received refreshing air conditioning sooner than others, as social media sparked jealousy among various consumers.
The reason some customers received power more quickly than others could depend on a number of factors, Alabama Power spokesperson Beth Thomas told Lagniappe.
“As Alabama Power works to restore power, the safety of the public and our employees is our number one priority,” she said. “Hospitals, police and fire stations, and water treatment plants are restored first so they can provide essential services for communities.”
After getting the essential services online, power restoration in various communities could also depend on the number of houses in a certain area, Thomas said.
“Next, the company focuses on high voltage wires that bring power to neighborhoods,” Thomas said. “A decision is made on what repairs will restore power to the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. Crews then focus on smaller distribution lines to neighborhoods and individual homes.”
In an email, Thomas clarified that just because a resident sees a truck in their neighborhood and it leaves without restoring their power it doesn’t mean they’ve been “passed up.”
“A common misunderstanding is that customers believe they have been passed by when a truck rides past their home,” she said. “However, problems a block away or even a mile away could be causing an outage and the truck is likely on its way to that location.”
With Hurricane Sally, restoration efforts were somewhat complicated by the large number of fallen trees in the area. Thomas said debris issues are assessed before the restoration of power can begin.
“Downed trees must be removed for trucks to get to the area and for new power poles to be installed,” she said. “Many times this can slow the process.”
While Thomas doesn’t know the exact number of trees removed, she said the company replaced more than 400 poles, 500 transformers and 1,500 spans of damaged or destroyed power lines.
While 75 percent of Alabama Power customers in Mobile were without power, it was restored in four days, Thomas wrote in an email. The swift work was accomplished, she said, with help from out-of-state agencies sending help through mutual aid agreements, which are not uncommon among utility companies.
“We did have a lot of additional crews working,” she said. “There were 4,000 linemen and support personnel from 14 states helping and 1,800 linemen and support staff staged ahead of the storm.”
Some Alabama Power crews had recently returned from Lafayette, La., where they were helping personnel there restore power. Hurricane season, Thomas said, is the busiest time for linemen. If they’re not working in the local area, they’re usually helping another area.
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