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Power repair work could be delayed by slow-moving storm

Article was added on Thursday, September 13, 2018

The predicted slow movement of Hurricane Florence across South Carolina could delay the beginning of repairs, and that could mean extended power outages. Line crews cannot begin repair work until it is safe to work outside.

"If this thing slow-walks across the state, the first consumers to lose power could be off for an extra time period while the storm passes-plus the time it takes to make repairs," said Reed Cooper, manager of engineering at Horry Electric Cooperative in Conway. "It's just one more headache for both consumers and utilities." 

High winds-above 35 miles per hour-prevent line crews from using bucket trucks to lift line workers up to pole tops. Even in less intense wind, flying debris, the risk of falling trees and ongoing electric system damage prevent workers from beginning repairs.

"As frustrating as it may sound, we literally have to just sit and wait sometimes," said Cooper. "Our plans are in place, ready to go, but we have to wait to execute them." 

There is one bright spot in this scenario. Assessment teams can begin to venture out to "lay eyes on the damage," as Cooper described it, before repair crews can move out. "We need to know more than the fact that the power's out," Cooper said. "We need to know what kind of damage exists, so we can put the right people with the right equipment in the right place."

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