HARTFORD, Ala. (WTVY) -- Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon on the Florida Panhandle and has caused 16,000 outages in Wiregrass Electric’s service territory with more expected. Crews will work to restore these outages until it is unsafe for them to do so. The storm moved through WEC’s territory Wednesday afternoon.
“Our crews will work until the wind speeds make it unsafe for them to do so,” says Wiregrass Electric Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “Our crews will remain in the field but when the wind speeds exceed 35 mph then we don’t go up in the bucket trucks any longer. Our goal is to restore power as quickly as possible but keeping our members and employees safe is our top priority.”
Crews have begun assessing the damage from the storm and will immediately begin restoring outages once it is safe for them to do so.
“We hope our members understand we are working to restore outages as safely and quickly as possible. However, with this level of damage we need everyone to understand that these will be extended outages measured in days and not hours,” Kimbro says. “We ask that our members have patience as we work to restore power.”
Approximately 180 men from WEC, other cooperatives and contracted crews are ready to restore service back to members. Sand Mountain, Cherokee and Marshall-DeKalb Electric Cooperatives each sent crews to assist WEC on Wednesday. WEC will also be receiving help from Baldwin, Central Alabama, Covington, Cullman, Joe Wheeler, North Alabama, Southern Pine and Tombigbee Electric Cooperatives.
That effort was coordinated by Michael Kelley of the Alabama Rural Electric Association.
“We are so appreciative of everyone who has agreed to come and provide assistance,” Kimbro says. “We have our sister cooperatives coming to help along with contracted crews and we are grateful to all of them. That’s the great thing about being a cooperative is when you need help there is always another cooperative there to help. We have a massive job ahead of us and they are going to help us restore service to our members.”
For live updates on the number of outages and their location visit wiregrass.coop/electric/outage/outage-map/ to view the outage map.
WEC members can report outages by calling 1-888-469-6882 or by downloading the Wiregrass Electric mobile app. Members can also receive updates by liking WEC’s Facebook page but Kimbro says it is much more effective if members report their outages through the toll-free number or through the mobile app and not through social media.