Storm Season Was Eventful and Tasking
This summer is one that goes down in history as one of the worst seasons for storms topping the major event that hit on July 12 last year. The severe weather affected up to 10,000 of our members, many who were without power more than once, as the storm patterns mimicked the same geographic areas over and over again.
The most remarkable storm dates began when a June 19 possible tornado flattened trees and damaged homes and power lines near Deerwood, causing 400 of our members to be without power for 24 hours. Facebook shared photos of golf and even baseball sized hail.
Then came July. Over 4,000 members were without power on July 9 and 10 when a storm came through areas north of Brainerd to Longville and hitting Emily/Outing areas hard.
That was minor for most of us, compared to what we experienced on July 21 when a supercell came through the area, knocking out power to 10,000 members, much like last year's July storm when many of the same 9,000 people were affected from Motley to Crosby, causing again a state of emergency for the area. The damage was severe and much more widespread than last July's storm that only affected 24 square miles. This year a very large geographic area was affected and some people were without power for almost six days. After 140 man hours, power was restored, but the devastation to trees left its mark once again.
August 4th brought another storm where 1,400 members were affected. By the end of the season we were getting really good at restoration and the teamwork amongst employees and contractors was incredible and efficient.
Members learned how to live without power for days, were accustomed to viewing our website’s outage map and many experienced the value of social media through Facebook, where we were able to keep people informed.
Luckily none of our crews were hurt, but one Cooperative member sadly lost his life when a tree fell on him while using a chainsaw to clear trees in his yard.
Automated Outage Handling System Efficiently Directs Crews and Why Your Phone Numbers Need to be Current in our Database
When possible, we have phones answered by people 24 hours a day, however during large power outages, our automated phone handling system takes over. When you call us to report an outage, the system automatically knows your service location, if our phone number is current in our computer data base, and begins to direct crews to areas where the largest number of people area affected.
Efficiency is essential when dealing with large numbers of people and widespread geographical areas. Crews are automatically assigned to move to another area, usually close by, after they have resorted power in one area. Sometimes one or two people in a restored area have to wait a few days until electricians can repair damage to a homeowner’s own electrical equipment.
It's interesting to watch our Outage Viewer Mapping system on the Internet, as hard hat icons pop up, indicating where crews are assigned and show us who is out of power. The number of outages wax and wane as crews restore power and new people call in.
In general, our system predicts the number of people without power even before everyone calls in, however for us to know exactly who is without electricity, people must call us to log their particular outage location.