Co-op storm recovery
EnergyLines March 2017
Co-ops weather severe damage
March came roaring in across much of Hoosier Energy member systems’ service territories. Severe storms and two tornadoes ripped through southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois late February 28 ushering in March with a trail of downed power lines, snapped poles, damaged substations and a string of power outages.
The damage came nearly five years to the day when a EF4 tornado hit Henryville, Indiana in 2012, leaving many people without power for weeks.
One lineman called this month’s storm damage the worst he had seen in more than 20 years.
Hardest hit were Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative in Illinois, Dubois REC, Jackson County REMC, Clark County REMC, Harrison REMC and WIN Energy. The storms caused extensive damage to Hoosier Energy’s system and interconnected lines, including wiping out half the Poseyville crew station. No employees were injured.
Through it all, cooperative crews worked through the night and the days following to restore power safely and as quickly as possible to thousands of consumers. Hoosier Energy sent three crews to Illinois to repair the 69kV system and assist Wayne-White linemen with clean-up and power restoration. Southern Indiana Power dispatched a crew to help out neighboring Dubois REC. Sorting through debris and rebuilding lines took days.
“We can’t say enough about the cooperative teamwork during this devastating storm,” said Brady Mann, Manager of Delivery Services for Hoosier Energy. “Continual planning for emergencies, a coordinated effort, and dedicated employees kept the public and operations safe despite the widespread destruction. Most member system load was restored within a day and the bulk of Hoosier Energy’s transmission system was returned to normal in four days,” he said.
Crews reported seeing buildings hurled across Hwy 165 near Poseyville, Indiana. A tractor-trailer sized steel storage container lay in shambles across the highway, its contents strewn everywhere. Overturned power transformers looked like discarded play toys. Live lines dangled from their broken structures.
Cooperatives’ social media channels kept consumers informed on how to stay safe including repeated warnings to stay away from downed power lines.
“Using posts and pictures on Facebook really helped us keep our members informed throughout the storm. The response was amazing – so appreciative with people praising our crews and urging them to stay safe,” said Nicole Ault, Communications Specialist for Jackson County REMC.