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a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
May 23, 2013
A TV commercial from the 1970s depicts Mother Nature as a kindly woman wearing a long, white gown with daisies in her hair. But when she mistakes a particular brand of margarine for butter, she declares, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” and conjures an ear-splitting lightning strike.
When it comes to natural disasters, Mother Nature always has the last word. Extensive flooding in Florida caused by Tropical Storm Debby last month is her latest reminder.
But there is plenty we can do to minimize the suffering brought about by a natural disaster and to spur the recovery from its destruction. Preparedness is the key. Electric power associations stand ready for emergency response at all times of the year.
Our preparedness activities include a natural disaster simulation, a drill we conduct each year in the fall. We start by creating a disaster scenario, such as a catastrophic tornado, hurricane, flood or ice storm—all likely occurrences in Mississippi. One time we chose an earthquake, a real possibility for our northwest counties.
One or more electric power associations are chosen to be the “victim” of the disaster, with all 26 electric power associations getting involved in the emergency response.
The afflicted electric power associations assess the damage to their electrical system. They determine what they need in terms of additional manpower and supplies to restore power fast, without sacrificing safety. Coordinating their efforts through the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi, in Ridgeland, electric power associations outside the disaster zone rally to help. They coordinate efforts to transport emergency crew members, trucks, poles, transformers and conductor where (and if) needed in the disaster zone.
If several electric power associations suffer outages in the disaster, we coordinate with electric cooperatives in other states to obtain emergency restoration assistance. (In the spirit of mutual aid, we return the favor when a real disaster strikes their areas.)
The electric power associations suffering the imaginary emergency simulate the preparations necessary to feed and house what could be hundreds of assisting lineworkers arriving in their areas. (This in itself can be a huge logistical challenge, especially in our more rural service areas. During our Hurricane Katrina power restoration, more than 12,000 emergency work crew members from across Mississippi and 22 other states poured into our coastal service areas to rebuild power lines and restore power.)
As soon as all the emergency needs are met, our disaster drill ends and the evaluation process begins. We examine our response to the simulation with a critical eye. The goal is to identify ways to improve our emergency preparedness statewide.
This annual disaster drill is but one of the ways electric power associations keep emergency preparedness at the forefront of our operations. Fast, safe power restoration is crucial for kickstarting Mississippi’s recovery from any natural disaster.
We take this responsibility seriously throughout the year—because you never know when Mother Nature might send a reminder of her powers of destruction.
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The official publication of the ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATIONS of MISSISSIPPI