Severe storms that raged across the South and part of the Midwest on Sunday caused power outages for more than 200,000 electric cooperative-served meters in several states, and crews are busy restoring power from East Texas and Louisiana to the Carolinas.
Outages that began over Easter and Passover weekend continued through National Lineworker Appreciation Day on Monday and threatened to extend into midweek in some of the hardest-hit areas.
Tornadoes and high winds knocked out power to more than 4,000 members of Homer-based
Claiborne Electric Cooperative on April 12. Crews were able to reduce outages to about 800, but overnight storms stalled restoration work and falling trees boosted the co-op’s outages to nearly 3,000 before dawn Monday. Fewer than 1,000 of the co-op’s meters were still without power by noon.
“We’ve had several tornadoes, thunderstorms and straight-line winds, and crews have had to cut their way in and out of some areas because of downed trees and debris,” said Emmalee Tingle, communications and marketing specialist for the co-op, on Monday.
Several electric co-ops serving members in East Texas reported storm-related outages Sunday.
Wood County Electric Cooperative in Quitman reported more than 4,300 meters out early Monday afternoon. Officials said many of the outages were on lines controlled by its investor-owned transmission provider.
Repairs to transmission lines serving
Upshur-Rural Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Gilmer, were wrapped up Monday afternoon, clearing the way for the co-op to continue restoration work for 19,000 of its meters, said Charles Lohrmann, editor of
Texas Co-op Power. The co-op reported a high-outage figure of 35,000 on Sunday evening. Once all of the co-op’s substations are online, crews will tackle the scattered outages that remain.
In Mississippi, some co-ops advised members that storm restoration would take days, even as mutual aid crews from co-ops that suffered fewer outages were headed to more severely hit areas.
“We had 47,000 meters without service,” said Ron Stewart, senior vice president of communications for the
Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. As many as 100 poles were down in the service area of
Dixie Electric Power Association, headquartered in Laurel.
Stewart added that
Southern Pine Electric, based in Taylorsville, had at least 15,000 meters out, but communications system issues across its service territory have made it difficult for some members to report problems.
After the storm system moved across the state, Arkansas co-ops reported more than 50,000 meters out of service, said Rob Roedel, a spokesman for the
Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.
“As of mid-morning Monday, outage numbers have been trimmed to about 16,000, mostly in the south-central and southeastern parts of the state,” said Roedel. “A large majority of the remaining outages are related to problems with investor-owned transmission lines that are out of our control.”
While damage to co-op systems in Missouri was limited, several co-ops reported scattered outages, according to Jim McCarty, editor of
Rural Missouri magazine. He added that local crews, aided by contractors, were able to handle repairs.
Severe storms were blamed for nearly 19,000 member outages across Alabama on Sunday.
“We’re down to 9,893 outages now, so we’ve restored about half the number of 18,973 that were reported out as of 6 a.m. today,” said Lenore Vickrey, vice president of communications for the
Alabama Rural Electric Association, on Monday afternoon. Broken poles and fallen trees were blamed for many of the problems.
Near Hanceville, Alabama, served by
Cullman Electric Cooperative, a pair of 9,000-pound transformers fell off their platform when high wind and debris pushed against the support poles, Vickrey said. “There was heavy damage to the gas station and other structures around that intersection.”
Severe storm-related outages early Monday affected more than 96,000 members in co-op- served areas of Georgia, said Terri Statham, manager of media relations for
Georgia Electric Membership Corp.
“Most of the affected members are served by co-ops in the northern and middle regions of the state,” Statham said. Crews worked Monday in some of the hardest-hit areas, removing downed trees, resetting poles and rebuilding power lines, Statham added.
About 30,000 meters in the state awaited restoration late Monday, but officials expected to complete much of the work within 24 hours.
Co-op crews in North Carolina worked to reduce statewide co-op outages from 49,000 on Monday. In some areas, restoration work was stalled by high winds and daytime thunderstorms, said Lisa Crawley, senior public relations specialist for
North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.
Co-ops in some parts of the state warned members that additional outages were possible as a result of continued foul weather.
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Pickens, reported more than 35,000 of its meters out early Monday. Problems with high-voltage transmission lines and broken poles left seven of the co-op’s substations without power.
“We have been working on the problem, but it will take time,” said Jim Lovinggood, the co-op’s president and CEO. “These are metal transmission poles ranging from 105 feet to 120 feet tall that will have to be replaced before any other restoration efforts can be made.”
Co-ops in many affected areas continued repair work as National Weather Service meteorologists warned that more severe storms were possible later this week.