SVEC Area Hit Hard by Powerful Storm
At a time of year already marked with the celebration of Independence Day, a couple of weather events made the days leading up to July 4 of this year unforgettable. The evening of Friday, June 29 brought a storm system known as a derecho to Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative’s (SVEC) service area, followed by scorching temperatures in the days after.
With whipping winds and abundant lightning, the derecho – Spanish for straight – tore through SVEC’s eight-county service territory Friday night, leaving 44,590 of SVEC’s 92,000 accounts (about 48 percent of SVEC’s total accounts) without service at one point, and overall, with expected total storm-related costs and expenses at more than $2.5 million.
“This was probably the worst storm I have seen,” SVEC President & CEO Myron Rummel said. “The fact that it came from the west, and made it over the mountains to the Valley, speaks to the strength of the system.”
What is a derecho? It is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is limited to one direction along a relatively straight swath. As a result, the term “straight-line wind damage” sometimes is used to describe derecho damage. By definition, if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles (about 400 kilometers) and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length, then the event may be classified as a derecho. (www.noaa.gov)
Though the storm seemed to have just a short duration, that did not mean less damage was done. The powerful winds associated with the system meant trees splintered and broke, limbs snapped off, and branches fell. Rummel said what struck him was the amount of damage that was done to the trees.
“This instance was unusual due to the sheer magnitude of the damage that was done, and the fact that it wasn’t in just one county, or even two,” he said. “That the storm affected all eight of our counties of service, to the degree that it did, was unbelievable.”
The storm lived up to its definition, leaving a wide path of destruction – downing trees, ripping roofs off of buildings, pulling signs out of the ground, and – causing power outages.
SVEC began working to restore members’ power late Friday evening. SVEC linemen, support personnel, and consumer service representatives were ready for what they knew could be a long process in repairing power following such a large storm. When the magnitude of the damage became apparent, SVEC brought in additional manpower from 15 cooperatives and three contractors.
“Once we saw some of the destruction in the areas, we knew we’d be in for a stiff challenge when it came to restoration,” Rummel said. “But we also knew that working as a team, we would be able to reverse the havoc caused by this powerful storm.”
Crews from Fort Loudon, EMC in Tennessee; Tri County EMC in Georgia; Snapping Shoals EMC in Georgia; Sumter, EMC in Georgia; Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative in Tennessee; Tom Bigbee Electric Power Association in Mississippi; Central Electric Power Association in Mississippi, Delaware Electric Cooperative in Delaware; Somerset REC in Pennsylvania; Adams Electric Cooperative in Pennsylvania; Bedford REC in Pennsylvania; Valley REC in Pennsylvania; Warren Electric Cooperative in Pennsylvania; REA Energy Cooperative in Pennsylvania; and Mountain Electric Cooperative, which serves Tennessee and parts of western North Carolina came to assist in SVEC’s efforts to restore power. Additionally, associates from Davis H. Elliot, Asplundh Tree Expert Company, and Lee Electrical are assisting with power restoration efforts.
“We knew it was an all-hands-on-deck situation,” Rummel said. “We certainly would like to express our appreciation to those who traveled from many different locations to assist us during this event, working tirelessly to restore power to our members as quickly and safely as possible.”
He said the effort and the cooperative spirit exhibited by SVEC employees was one of the biggest factors in helping get power restored to members.
“We are so fortunate to have such skilled, dedicated employees who put forth such efforts during these events,” Rummel said. “Across the board, the efforts were great, from the CSRs and others who answered the members’ calls, to the outside folks who worked to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”
Additionally, he conveyed thanks for the work done by the crews and contractors who came in.
“SVEC would like to thank all of those who worked tirelessly during this event. With these efforts we were able to continue working to have the power restored as safely and quickly as possible. We thank everyone for their efforts!”
He also expressed appreciation for the members’ patience.
“We would like to share our sincere gratitude and appreciation with our members for their patience through this challenging time,” Rummel said. “An outage of this magnitude is uncommon, and we are grateful and fortunate to have such supportive members.”