TALLADEGA, Ala. (WBRC) - Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative says the progress is slow but steady as they work to restore power to thousands of people following Tropical Storm Zeta.
The power company released the following statement Friday evening:
"The progress was slow but steady for Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative crews as they worked to restore services knocked out by Tropical Storm Zeta.
Crews focused on some of the hardest hit areas around Ohatchee in the northern part of the Cooperative’s distribution area as well as parts of Lincoln, Alpine, Grasmere, Childersburg-Fayetteville and south and east of Waldo. The arrival of crews from several cooperatives in Tennessee energized work. They traveled to the western portions of the CVEC system to restore services in and around Vandiver, Vincent, Stewarts Crossroads and New London areas.
Their work paid off, once again nearly cutting in half the numbers of services still remaining without power. They started the day with some 8,700 consumers without electricity. As of now, that number has been cut to just under 5,000.
“The work the crews are tackling now is the toughest stuff, and it’s only getting tougher,” said Leland Fuller, CVEC General Manager. “These areas have multiple trees on lines, broken poles and other structures, damaged insulators and other hardware and conductors that are on the ground and tangled in trees. This is the damage that just takes time to repair.”
Tropical Storm Zeta tore through the Cooperative’s service territory early Thursday morning leaving in its wake nearly 17,000 members without electricity. Crews were staged early Thursday morning and ready. Once the worst of Zeta had passed, they got to work.
The biggest issue has been downed trees and damaged structures. While not always breaking poles, the impact of trees often breaks crossarms, insulators and other hardware. Clearing the lines of trees and other debris is the first step. The next step is repairing or replacing the damaged structures and hardware.
“With our crews, crews from our tree-clearing contractor and crews from our fellow cooperatives in Tennessee, we now have a small army numbering nearly 100,” Mr. Fuller said. “They are all out there working and doing the best they can to restore electric service to our members' homes.”
Tennessee Cooperatives who sent crews include Meriweather Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville, TN, Pickwick Electric Cooperative in Selmer, TN, and Chickasaw Electric Cooperative in Somerville, TN.
“We are proud to have these crews from Tennessee working with us,” Mr. Fuller said. “One of the biggest strengths of electric cooperatives is that we can call on our fellow co-ops for help.”
Members who still do not have power but need it for medically necessary equipment and other things should relocate immediately to a site that does have electricity.
CVEC consumers who have already reported their outage do not need to call and report it again. Workers have their report. For information about the Cooperative’s progress restoring services, please follow CVEC on Facebook and Twitter and visit outage.coosavalleyec.com to see where outages are and how many are still without power.
CVEC officials urge caution as members journey outside to assess damage around their own homes. The most common cause of outages from storms such as Zeta is trees falling down and taking power lines with them. Those power lines may still be energized. Stay clear of them.
Also, with the large numbers of outages, CVEC officials say it’s going to take time to restore all services. Consumers who are without power should follow these tips:
· Make sure your kitchen range is off, both the surface and the oven.
· Turn off all unnecessary appliances.
· Avoid opening the freezer and refrigerator doors. A full, freestanding freezer will keep food at freezing temperatures about 2 days; a half-full freezer about 1 day.
· When power comes back on, slowly switch on your appliances and lights and gradually return your thermostat to its normal setting.
· Leave your porch light on so CVEC workers will know when your power has been restored.
Coosa Valley Electric, which serves more than 17,500 consumers in Talladega, St. Clair, Shelby, Clay, Etowah and Calhoun counties, is a Touchstone Energy® cooperative. Nationwide, some 1,000 cooperatives provide power to rural America, and more than 700 of those are members of the Touchstone Energy® alliance."