Utility companies ready for hurricane

Published 1:33 pm Thursday, July 3, 2014

As eastern North Carolina braced for Hurricane Arthur, the area’s utilities companies prepped for untold hours ahead.

Washington Electric Utilities Operations and Tideland EMC told respective crews to be ready for the impending storm.

“We’ve put folks on stand-by and they need to stick around,” said Keith Hardt, Washington’s director of electric utilities operations. “Our crews need to be available Thursday evening or Friday morning if we call them.”

Tideland announced Wednesday in a press release that it activated its emergency response plan, which included putting an additional five-man contract crew and related equipment in Beaufort County.

“Because we serve Ocracoke we have to get crews over there, but we are more than doubling our personnel,” said Heidi Smith, Tideland marketing and corporate communications director. “We have also brought in additional crews into the area.”

To prepare for the storm, Hardt said his crews made sure the trucks had a full tank of gas and materials loaded in case they were needed Friday morning.

Back-up generators are in place for the City of Washington at the water plant and the wastewater facility, Hardt said. He said power to the water plant and wastewater facility would be restored first then on at businesses and homes.

If there is damage to the electric lines and poles in Beaufort County, representatives for both companies said they will not begin repairs until after the storm has cleared due to safety concerns. They will also wait to call storm break crews for additional help.

“Any crews that are mobilized are on standby, and the clock is ticking so we would have to pick up the tab,” Smith said. “From what we are hearing, the storm will be here at 1a.m. or 2 a.m. so we feel like we will be able to do enough damage assessment then we can call crews in pretty early.”

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