Tropical Storm Isaias brought high winds, heavy rains, and destructive tornadoes on its path from Florida through New England this week. After tracking close to the southeastern Florida coast, the storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in North Carolina late Monday night, before moving North through Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic states and into New England and then up into Canada.
Last week, EEI member companies in the path of Isaias triggered their emergency response plans and the industry’s mutual assistance networks. Crews from at least 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada were activated to respond to outages caused by Isaias. Crews have made significant progress to restore power safely and as quickly as possible in areas where damage assessments are complete and it is safe to work. By Wednesday evening power had been restored to approximately 3.2 million affected customers, and companies continue to reallocate crews strategically across the impacted areas to ensure a safe, efficient response.
We know that being without electricity creates hardships and is frustrating during ordinary times. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, crews must follow additional safety protocols that may slow down restoration processes. We ask for and greatly appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding and urge them to prepare for the possibility of extended power outages. Fallen trees, downed power lines, and widespread debris and damage in the hardest-hit areas are creating significant challenges and limiting access for crews.
How Power Is Restored After a Storm
Power restoration follows a detailed process. The first step of storm restoration is damage assessment, and safety always is the top priority. Then, power is restored to essential services and facilities critical to public health and safety, such as hospitals, nursing homes, fire and police departments, and water systems. Crews work to return service to the largest number of residential and business customers in the shortest amount of time. Once major repairs are completed, individual homes and smaller groups of customers are restored.
While customers may not see electric company personnel in their neighborhoods, the energy grid is heavily interconnected, and crews are working throughout the system to bring power back on quickly and safely. Customers also may see crews in their area who then move on. In many cases, these crews are scouts, who are assessing damage to determine what types of equipment and crews will be needed to make repairs. Companies will not stop their storm restoration efforts until the last customer who can receive power is restored.
See the images of utilities in action below.