Power companies reflect on damage caused by Michael

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Oct. 10, 2019 at 2:54 PM CDT
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Hurricane Michael devastated nearly everything in its path after making landfall.

This storm knocked out power to more than 127,000 customers in southeast Alabama.

Most of them had power restored within a couple of weeks. Not much time compared with those in the Florida panhandle, where some staye din the dark for months.

"Life without electricity is brutal," said Wiregrass Electric Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro.

He believes it would have taken much longer to restore power the those his company serves had it not went to work before Michael hit.

Dothan Utilities Director Billy Mayes agrees. "You can't wait until the storm is here. We took action. We made sure we had equipment, materials, fuel. We lined everything up," he said.

Crews were not allowed on the streets during the height of the storm, but once conditions improved they worked around the clock.

"We hit the ground running and our guys were out there assessing the damage and giving report back and responding accordingly from there," said Kimbro.

The challenges for local power providers were more than they could handle alone. So, they got help from companies not impacted by the storm, many from out of state.

"The first mutual aid crew rolled in the next morning about 8 o'clock and that was a big benefit to us to getting things done," said Mayes.

Dothan Utilities and those crews replaced 57 transformers and repaired or replaced 78 poles to get power restored back to more than 26,000 of their customers.

Wiregrass Electric had more than 500 poles to work on before restoring services to the more than 18,000.

"We worked about nine days it took us to turn all the meters back on and restored that were affected by the power outages of hurricane Michael," said Kimbro.

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