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Today is October 4, 2022


Preparing for Isaac’s punch helped dampen its impact

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

Power outages are unavoidable in the face of a hurricane. But electric power associations are extremely effective in lessening their impact.
    Our experience with Hurricane Isaac once again proved the effectiveness of electric power associations’ emergency work plans and the value of cooperation in restoring electric service.
    Each of Mississippi’s 26 electric power associations activated a specific emergency response plan even before Tropical Storm Isaac entered the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi’s statewide emergency coordinator and staff took preliminary actions several days before the path of Isaac’s landfall became apparent.
    At the time, we had no idea how (or if) Mississippi would be affected by the storm. But we weren’t leaving anything to chance.
    One of the first things we did was to make sure we could count on help from electric cooperatives in other states should the need arise. While Isaac was still a tropical storm, we coordinated with cooperatives in some 20 other states to arrange for additional emergency work crews and equipment if needed.
    Then we took part in conference calls with statewide emergency coordinators representing electric cooperatives in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas to assess needs and plan appropriate responses.
    The power of working together in emergency operations is a hallmark of electric cooperatives in America. Each cooperative is an independent, locally owned utility, but together we share the same mission: the delivery of reliable electric service. No one in the electric utility industry works harder to keep your lights on than your electric power association.
    The amount of detail covered in our emergency preparedness operations is staggering. Long before a hurricane arrives, electric power associations arrange accommodations for the hundreds of emergency workers that may be called upon in other states to help us restore power. We talk with suppliers to ensure availability of line construction materials. We hold safety briefings with employees. Vehicles are fueled up and everyone stands ready to respond as soon as weather conditions allow.
    Fast power restoration is our goal, but nothing takes priority over the safety of our employees and the public. Our employees are highly skilled and well versed in safety procedures. They think about electrical safety every day.
    On the other hand, electrical safety is not always foremost in everyone’s mind. Please, be especially alert for safety hazards during emergency situations. Stay away from power lines at all times, and report a damaged line to your electric power association.
    As I write this, on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the electric power association work force is on standby, waiting for Isaac to budge from the Louisiana coastline and move farther inland. As soon as the strong winds diminish, our crews will begin rebuilding lines and restoring service in an orderly, speedy fashion.
    As we remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina, we also pray for the safety of those in Isaac’s path and those who will take part in the recovery process.

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