EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with new information from Coosa Valley Electric and the Sylacauga Utilities Board.
TALLADEGA -- Alabama Power announced Saturday it will likely be Thursday before power is fully restored to all of its Talladega County customers.
Talladega County, like much of the state, suffered extensive damage from Tropical Storm Zeta late Wednesday and Thursday morning.
As of 2 p.m. Saturday, Alabama Power said it had 131,000 customers without power statewide, down from a peak of 504,000. As of 8 p.m. Saturday, the company said it had restored power to 399,000 customers, and the number without had dropped to 105,000.
The company said all customers in southeast Alabama had seen their service restored. The company expected to have all power restored for those who were able to receive power in west Alabama by midnight Saturday.
“Zeta, whose impact is similar to what the company experienced during Hurricane Katrina and the April 27, 2011, tornadoes, knocked out service to nearly one-third of all Alabama Power customers,” the company said in a Saturday press release.
Alabama Power said it expected to have power restored to 95 percent of its customers by noon Tuesday. However, for the Alabama counties of Clay, Randolph and Talladega, the process will probably take until Thursday evening, the release said.
“We assess each area with outages and identify the safest and most efficient way to restore service,” Alabama Power communications specialist Anthony Cook said. “Critical infrastructure such as hospitals and public safety services are prioritized. We move along the main distribution lines where the largest number of customers can be restored at once and then focus on repairing smaller lines to customer homes. Rural areas can provide more challenging issues to work through, specifically with the significant widespread tree debris caused by Hurricane Zeta.”
Said Scott Moore, Alabama Power senior vice president of Power Delivery, in the release, “Since early Thursday morning, we’ve been working to restore service for customers affected by Hurricane Zeta. We’ve made significant progress and are working through some tough conditions due to the number of downed trees and extensive damage across our state. I’m proud of our team members and their commitment to serving our customers. During this challenging time, we will not stop until our customers’ service is restored.”
In central Alabama, according to the release, restoration is scheduled to be complete:
Sunday evening — Leeds and Trussville.
Monday evening — Hoover, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Chelsea, Columbiana, Calera, Montevallo, Pelham, Helena, Alabaster, Pelham and Jemison.
Wednesday evening — Chilton and Dallas counties.
In the Mobile area restoration is scheduled to be complete:
Monday evening — Saraland
Tuesday evening — Mount Vernon.
Wednesday evening — Butler.
Thursday evening — Citronelle, Thomasville, Grove Hill and Jackson.
Alabama Power said it appreciates its customers’ patience as crews work through the aftermath of this historic storm.
Coosa Valley Electric
An update on Coosa Valley Electric’s Facebook page Saturday night stated that less than 3,000 customers are without electricity after about 6,000 customers lost power during the storm.
Jon Cullimore, manager of marketing and member services for CVEC, said the going has been slow and the work is hard.
"Our crews, and those who journeyed from Tennessee to help us, are getting it done. Considering what they have been up against, they have made excellent progress. We started the day with nearly 6,000 services out, and as of now, only 2,500 are still without power," he said.
"What's taking so long is that we're having to replace a lot of poles. And it's not just a single pole that we have to replace. Sometimes, it's three or four poles that are broken, or the structure is damaged to the point where it's no longer serviceable. In some cases, it can take us as little as an hour to replace a pole, but usually it's about three hours," he said.
"And because we are a rural electric cooperative, power lines are out through the countryside, off of highways or off of roadways, And our guys have to travel out into those fields. We had a lot of rain, and a lot of those areas are still muddy. So it does take time to get out there," he said.
He added three separate cooperatives in Tennessee sent 40 crew members to assist with the work, and it made a big difference in the amount of work completed Saturday.
"Right now, our goal is to have everybody back on by the end of the day Monday," he said.
Sylacauga Utilities Board
The Sylacauga Utilities Board reported on its website Saturday it has restored service to 789 of 2,092 customers who lost power during the storm, and 1,303 were still without electricity.
The board serves 6,056 customers in a 16 square mile area.