Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Post Storm Assessment

On Wednesday, April 27 2011, a severe thunderstorm accompanied by fierce wind gusts and several tornadoes plowed through Johnson City Power Board’s (JCPB) service territory. The storm wreaked havoc throughout our community as it ripped through trees, houses, barns, vehicles and anything else with the misfortune of occupying its path. The destruction, albeit isolated, was catastrophic. However, damage to JCPB’s infrastructure was relatively light in comparison to other recent storms.

At the height of this storm’s intensity, JCPB officials had difficulty assessing damage to its distribution system. Real-time reports from customers were minimal as were inquiries from the local media. This untypical lack of reporting combined with opaque sheets of rain and hail obscured JCPB’s view of its system beyond its substations. Now that the dust has settled, the carnage strewn within the storm’s wake has become painfully apparent.

All told, approximately 1,000 customers lost power; mainly along highway 107 and within the Blackley Creek and Fall Branch communities. While this number is less than what is typically described as a wide-spread outage, extensive damage to poles and transformers prevented full restoration of JCPB’s infrastructure from being completed until nearly 5:00 PM the following Saturday. Even now after replacing 54 broken poles along with many of the power lines and transformers supported by them, nearly 500 JCPB customers remain without electrical service. However, these remaining services cannot be re-energized until residents complete work to their homes and gain the approval of a State Electrical Inspector. Unfortunately, this state mandated process will inevitably prevent many of those affected from reconnecting electrical services for several more days.

As our families, friends, and neighbors work to reclaim and rebuild what was so abruptly taken from them, be mindful of their unique challenges and needs. Even though the storm has passed, its scars endure.