Being Prepared For Hurricane Season or Any Other
Jon Cullimore is general manager of Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative.
Be prepared. We often attribute this credo to The Boy Scouts of America.
Their actual motto is Prepared for Life, and their mission is “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes... .”
The Boy Scouts are definitely onto something.
We prepare for all sorts of things. When taking a trip, we prepare by packing our clothes, toiletries, and other desired items we feel we’ll need. We don’t just wake up and drive off.
In our jobs, we must prepare for meetings and events. This can take days, weeks or even months. Regardless of the time required, we do not simply walk into a meeting or try to put on an event without preparing. We could try, but without prepa- ration, the results would probably be less than desirable.
For the electric utility business, we must prepare for a lot of things. Each season of the year presents its own challenges.
In winter, we must deal with freezing temperatures along with the potential for snow and ice. In spring, we have unpre- dictable storms and typically heavy rainfall with strong winds. During summer, we are blessed with high temperatures and the potential for even more storms, only these usually bring lots of lightning.
In fall, we never know what we’re going to get. We can get lingering warmer weather from an “Indian Summer” or suddenly dip- ping temperatures from an early winter. The rapidly changing conditions can often bring more, violent storms.
There is another season we recognize. It stretches through five months and pro- duces the most dynamic, awesome, violent and destructive weather our planet has ever seen—hurricane season.
It starts June 1 and runs through November 30. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a “normal” season, forecasting a range of 12 to 17 total named storms. Of those, NOAA says we could see five to nine become hurricanes, packing winds of 74 mph and stronger. These are just predictions, and our reality this year could be much different.
While our area is roughly 200 miles from the Gulf Coast, we are not immune to the impact of hurricanes. These powerful storms in the past have caused widespread damage and lasting power outages in and around the communities we serve.
In 2020, Hurricane Zeta moved with such speed and ferocity that it lost little of its power after making landfall. It raced north- ward and struck our system head on. The result was extreme damage that left 96% of our members without power. It impacted Coosa Valley Electric like no other storm in our history.
So, how do we deal with all these seasons and potential challenges? We prepare, and we stay prepared.
We prepare by training our employees in not just their jobs. We train them to deal with those situations where one or more lives are on the line. We train them to recognize problems, troubleshoot the causes, work out solutions and repair the damage to restore electricity. We train to isolate damaged line sections and minimize the long-term impact to large numbers of consumers.
We keep our equipment maintained and in a state of readiness. We ensure we have adequate supplies and materials on hand. In short, we prepare, and we stay prepared 12 months out of the year.
When you gather this year with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s independence, you can rest assured we will be there should Mother Nature decide to con- tribute her own brand of fireworks. Happy Fourth!