Crews from electric cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware worked diligently to restore power to tens of thousands of co-op members in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias. Pounding the seaboard with as much as 6 inches of rain and gusts up to 75 mph, the storm knocked out power to nearly 79,000 members across the five cooperatives that adjoin the Eastern Shore.
Lineworkers from other Virginia electric cooperatives assisted local co-op crews in restoring power under a mutual aid program. Some teams were working through the night on Aug. 4 to bring back power to affected members.
“This was a very significant storm, but our crews were well prepared and went to work as soon as it was safe to do so,” said Alan Scruggs, vice president for safety and training services at the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. “They made excellent progress and will continue to work hard until the last member is back online.”
Hard hit was Delaware Electric Cooperative, which lost power to more than 30,000 members as the storm passed through its territory. Lauren Irby, the co-op’s manager of public relations and community outreach described it as “the worst storm we’ve seen in recent memory.” Crews were dealing with at least 370 instances of broken poles and downed trees that fell on power lines. Restoration was hampered by several tornados that touched down in DEC’s service territory.
Just to the south of DEC, Choptank Electric Cooperative in Maryland had more than 18,000 members in the dark at the height of the storm. Co-op officials said damage was so widespread that its outage map “looks a lot like a Candy Crush board.” Some of the fallen trees, poles and wire were near water, complicating the restoration task.
“We are slowly removing trees from lines, putting poles back in place, and restoring our members,” the co-op said.
In Virginia, A&N Electric Cooperative had more than 16,000 members without power. Many of the outages were associated with substation issues, the co-op reported. Crews from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative were teaming up with A&N lineworkers to bring back power to the Tasley-based co-op. They had restored power to all but about 3,500 members as of the night of Aug. 4.
Northern Neck Electric Cooperative’s service territory was beset by heavy rain and high winds, causing over 5,900 members to be without power at the peak of the storm. NNEC crews worked throughout the day and had all but about 445 members back online by the early morning of Aug. 5. The bulk of the remaining outages were in Northumberland County, according to Jay Garner, manager of public relations.
Because many of the remaining outages are smaller and will require more time to resolve, mutual aid crews from Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, BARC Electric Cooperative and Central Virginia Electric Cooperative will be assisting NNEC crews and its right-of-way contractors with restoration efforts as of Aug. 5.
Community Electric Cooperative in Windsor lost power to 5,000 members — more than half of its total. CEC crews and a four-member construction crew from Central Virginia Electric Cooperative made tremendous progress in restoring most members..