Alabama Power working to restore service

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2004

Power outages are one of the biggest inconveniences any major storm leaves behind.

Hurricane Ivan was no exception.

Ivan’s vicious winds nearly knocked out all the power in Butler County as it ripped through south Alabama. Alabama Power Company spokeswoman Jan Ellis said it isn’t certain when all power will be restored.

&uot;Right now we can’t say when the power will be back on, we don’t have a good estimate because we haven’t assessed all of the damage,&uot; Ellis said. &uot;We’re thinking the worse case scenario it could be a couple of weeks in some areas, but hopefully it won’t be that long.&uot;

As of Friday morning, 5,781 customers in Butler County were left in the dark. A total of 825,701 customers in Alabama were left powerless of the 1.3 million online. Ellis asked that all customers remain understanding.

&uot;We just want our customers to be patient with us, we want them to be sure to treat every downed power line as if it is energized and just realize this was the worse storm to hit our system,&uot; she said. &uot;We have some severe damage to our electrical system and it is going to take a while to restore power to everyone, but we will be working around the clock until we get it restored.&uot;

Following Hurricane Opal’s path of destruction 475,000 APC customers were left without power.

&uot;This storm was worse than Opal,&uot; Ellis said. &uot;This is the worst storm to hit our system.&uot;

Ellis said linemen began working at 6 a.m. Friday morning and will continue to work until power is restored. They will work 16-hour shifts, 24 hours a day.

&uot;We’ve got a lot of wire down and we’ve got broken poles, which hampers the quickness of the restoration process,&uot; Ellis said. &uot;We have to get in their replace the poles and then restring the wires. We’ve got crews working right now and we had employees working last night (Thursday) evaluating and accessing the damage. Now we’ve got our linemen out there because the weather is cooperating. We couldn’t put them out until the winds were below 30 mph because of the bucket truck.&uot;

Ellis said APC’s first priority is checking on transmission lines and getting them back up and running. Then the crews will move on to the substations and will follow with repairing the distribution lines.

&uot;We’ve lost several transmission line,&uot; she said. &uot;We have problems with all of our substations. So if our 3customers don’t see a power company truck in their neighborhood the first day or so, it doesn’t mean that we’re not working, it means we’re out trying to get the main lines put up, so we’re able to serve our customers.&uot;

A total of 24 linemen are working in the Greenville area. According to Ellis, 85 poles, 160 spans of wire and at least 10 transformers were totally lost.

Thursday evening crews worked to get hospitals, fire and police departments, water, and sewage treatment facilities up and running.

&uot;All of those are top priority,&uot; Ellis said. &uot;We worked through the night to make sure they were up and running for community safety.&uot;

Ellis also said that critically ill patients or patients on life support are also a top priority, but without transmission lines, power is not available.