Hurricane Updates

Unprecedented storm season affecting electricity across the map

Texas, Louisiana slowly recovering from Harvey. This weekend will mark a full month since Hurricane Harvey ravaged southeast Texas and parts of western Louisiana. Though the lowlands in those regions are no longer inundated, clean-up is an ongoing and difficult process. Shermco Industries—based in Dallas but with three locations in the Houston area—is one of countless businesses who experienced the storm firsthand. As part of a major service expansion that included another new facility in Detroit and new capabilities in St. Paul, Minn., Shermco launched its brand new Beaumont facility merely three days before Harvey’s impact on the Gulf. “Beaumont was flooded,” Shermco’s Kevin Alewine told Electrical Apparatus over the phone, referring to both the city and the new facility, “but they’re already cleaned up. It’s more about getting people back to work and making sure everyone is safe.” The new location is in Beaumont is the fourth office serving the Texas gulf coast region for oil, gas and chemical downstream clients as well as electric utilities and wide base of other industrial customers.

Maria cuts power to Puerto Rico. In the most recent of all hurricane reports, Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Maria on Wednesday, September 20. The U.S. territory was heavily flooded and lost all electrical power as the storm made landfall at Category 4 strength. Puerto Rico’s office of emergency management confirmed that 100 percent of the U.S. territory had lost power, noting that anyone with electricity was using a generator, ABC News reported Wednesday. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello described the hurricane as “the most devastating storm in a century” and said that Maria had hit the island’s electricity grid so badly that it could take months to restore power. Multiple news outlets report that cell phone service has been completely knocked out throughout the entire island, which is home to 3.5 million people. As of Thursday morning, the storm had continued on to the Dominican Republic as a Category 3 storm with winds upwards of 115 mph. Hurricane Maria also caused severe damage to the islands of Guadeloupe and Dominica on its way into the Caribbean on Monday.

Recovering on the peninsula: Hurricane Irma’s path. Floridians were strictly forewarned about the grave danger of Hurricane Irma well in advance, with many of them likely heeding advice due to what they’d seen two weeks prior in Houston. Many also witnessed Irma—at one point the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded—blast the Leeward Islands and Dominican Republic just days before it was predicted to hit the Florida Keys. All of these factors combined for early governmental declaration of a state of emergency and dire warnings by the governor to take cover or leave the state altogether. While millions of residents evacuated, utilities and repair companies attempted preparatory maintenance. Florida Power and Light (FPL) was working actively with other utilities across the country as early as September 6 to secure and pre-position additional resources for Irma’s projected landfall in its service area. The utility said it had activated backup suppliers and equipment vendors, as well as more than 20 staging sites where restoration crews, trucks, and equipment were stationed, spending an estimated total of $3 billion in the overall effort to secure its electrical grid. Nonetheless, Irma’s magnitude still knocked out power everywhere in a majority of South Florida. Tens of thousands of FPL customers suffered a week or more without power, according to the Miami Herald. Overall, nearly 4.5 million of Florida Power and Light’s 4.9 million customers had their power fail, including 92 percent of accounts in Miami-Dade County and 85 percent in Broward County. Darkness, lack of air conditioning, and flooding created a potentially lethal combination.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened South Florida’s first disaster recovery center on Wednesday to help victims of Irma start their recovery. Open seven days a week, the center in Boynton Beach guides people through the application process for disaster-relief benefits offered by FEMA and the Small Business Administration. FEMA is looking to open additional centers in coming weeks in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, officials said. About $163 million has been set aside to help Floridians with damage and losses not covered by insurance, John Mills, an agency spokesman, told the Broward County Sun-Sentinel.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Report Cards | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - March 28, 2019

    […] was gathered for the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program, which involved survivors of the 2017 hurricane season (Harvey, Irma, Maria) and 2017 summer wildfires in […]

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