Weather

A repairman with Alabama Power works to free a power line from a downed tree on Mountain Street. Straight line winds knocked large trees down on power lines and houses across Jacksonville cutting power to many residents. Kirsten Fiscus/ The Anniston Star

Alabama Power was presented with Edison Electric Institute’s “Emergency Recovery Award” Thursday for its work restoring power after the March 2018 tornado in Jacksonville.

Company spokeswoman Jacki-Lyn Lowry said that 24,530 customers throughout Jacksonville, Southside, Heflin and Ashville lost service due to an EF-3 tornado that ripped through eastern Alabama. It took 72 hours to restore service, thanks to the combined effort of 1,828 Alabama Power workers who replaced 420 poles and many miles of power lines. The work required a total of 70,600 man-hours, according to an explanation for the award sent by the EEI.

“When that storm came through it wasn’t a widespread event across the state,” Lowry explained by phone Thursday. “It was really all congested in one area, and we had a lot of people and resources ready to go across the state.”

According to an EEI release, the award recognizes “extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events.”

Alabama Power was also recognized for its response to what’s known as a derecho wind event — “a widespread, long-lived wind storm” with severe wind gusts, according to the National Weather Service — that caused 400 miles of damage from Central Tennessee to the Gulf Coast. More than 230,000 customers lost service during that storm, according to the EEI, but 100 percent of customers had service restored within three days.

“We were really proud of the efforts in Jacksonville. It was really hard to believe the damage until you saw it. Everything around it was fine,” Lowry said.

She offered her thanks to the Jacksonville community for its help through the storm.

“It was a community-wide effort,” she said. “We’re proud of our employees especially for working through the night and day.”

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560. 

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