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Power companies tackle challenges

A power pole near Conway snapped in Irene’s high winds. Staff Photo by Amanda VanDerBroek

“When will the power come back on?”

That question has been on the lips of thousands of individuals as they patiently wait for restoration of electrical service in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Dominion Power reported on Monday that electrical service will be restored to 90-95 percent of the customers affected by Irene-related outages by the end of the day Friday. Seventy-five percent will be restored by the end of the workday on Wednesday.

Nearly all customers in the remaining areas, which suffered the most extreme damage, will have their electric service restored by the end of the day Saturday.

“Our goal is to restore power to our customers, particularly those that provide critical services, as quickly and as safely as we can,” said Rodney Blevins, vice president of distribution operations for Dominion Virginia Power and Dominion North Carolina Power. “As of noon Monday, we have restored power to about 600,000 of the 1.2 million customers affected by Irene-related power outages. We are working to help ensure that our customers have power for the Labor Day weekend.”

More than 6,000 people are helping restore power, including more than 2,000 workers from utilities in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina.  An additional 800 workers will arrive today and bring the total number of bucket trucks on the job to 1,100.

“The damage caused by Irene was widespread.  Trees and limbs brought down power lines and poles, and storm debris and flooding made it difficult to reach some work areas,” Blevins said. “The Irene restoration effort is the company’s second largest in its history, behind only Hurricane Isabel from 2003, when 1.8 million customers were affected and restoration took two weeks.”

Roanoke Electric Cooperative, based in Ahoskie, is also making great progress in restoring power to nearly 13,000 members. Those members can use the Internet to keep track of power outages caused by Hurricane Irene.

An interactive map on the company’s new website (the direct link to that web page is www. outage.roanokeelectric.com/) displays the cooperative’s service restoration efforts. Viewers will be able to see the parts of the REC service area affected by events causing outages and track the progress as well. The restoration update includes which roads or streets are affected as well as the number of co-op members in that area still without power.

Additionally, a link to this map is also on the REC corporate website, www.roanokeelectric.com, under Quick Tools.