All power restored in Beaufort County

Published 9:12 pm Monday, April 28, 2014

After the destruction of Friday evening’s tornado, the Washington Electric Utilities Operations and Tideland EMC went to work immediately to get the community’s power back on line. By Saturday night, all the customers on both grids had their electricity restored, according to executives with both companies.

The city estimated that it cost an estimated $80,000 to $100,000 to repair lines and poles destroyed in the storm.

One of the first orders of business for the City of Washington after the storm was to restore power to the water plant. The city looks at three public infrastructures first to restore their electricity: the hospital, water and wastewater facility.

“When we had the tornado come through Friday night, the first thing we worked on was the water plant,” said Keith Hardt, director of electric utilities operations. “Because you have to have potable water, people have to have water.”

Washington has a backup water supply in its reservoir tanks, but, according to Hardt, utilities officials did not want to overburden the water plant staff by making them come in after hours, so they got the plant up and running first. The hospital and wastewater plants never lost power during the storm. The city then looked at businesses so people could return to work quickly.

“The next thing we do is look at large employers. If we can get an industry on, people can go to work and get a paycheck because we have a lot of hourly folks that live here,” Hardt said.

Tideland, meanwhile, got all 3,200 of their customers, who had sound structures and did not have major damages, back up and running Saturday afternoon by 1 p.m.

Five, 70-foot subtransmission poles came down Friday night in the Tideland grid during the storm. The 70-foot poles are the second largest in the Tideland EMS service area.

The Duck Creek substation, which serves Bath, went out at 8 p.m. Friday and was restored by 4:45 a.m. Saturday.

A fire, which was a result of the tornado, affected power on N.C. Highway 99 in Pantego. A grain bin caught fire and burned a pole and its lines, which put 476 people without electricity in the area.

“We never expected full restoration so quickly,” said Heidi Smith, spokeswoman for Tideland EMC. “This is a direct reflection of our employees, who worked hard to get the service back up.”

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