Utility crews work to restore power to area

Downed trees blocking roadways that also brought down power lines are among the challenges as crews work to restore power to customers impacted by Tropical Storm Isaias. (Submitted photo)

Efforts to turn the lights on continue.

Local and out-of-state crews worked overnight into Wednesday, restoring power to thousands of but not all customers impacted by Tropical Storm Isaias – a fast-moving system that pummeled the region Tuesday with gale-force winds and isolated tornadoes.

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Delmarva Power had restored service to more than 100,000 customers. Crews will continue work 12-to 16-hour shifts in the around-the-clock effort to restore the remaining 15,000 customers impacted by Isaias.

Greenwood-based Delaware Electric Cooperative projected power would be restored to the remaining several hundred customers by Wednesday evening. At the height of the storm, approximately 28,000 of DEC’s 103,000-plus customers lost power.

Delaware Electric Cooperative’s dispatch hub was a beehive of activity during Tropical Storm Isaias. (Submitted photo)

“This was one of the worst storms that we have experienced in at least a decade,” said Delaware Electric Cooperative spokesman Jeremy Tucker. “It was the very high winds combined with the heavy rains and the isolated tornadoes. So, all the wind damage combined with the rain and the tornadoes created a serious situation for us.”

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, DEC reported 88 customers were without power. Most remaining outages were in the Georgetown (19947), Seaford (19973), Milton (19968), Lewes 19958 and Millsboro (19966) ZIP code areas.

“One of the reasons it takes so long, say 24 hours after a storm to restore power, is because we have a lot of outages that are impacting just one or two homes,” said Mr. Tucker. “So that means we may still have 100 instances where we need to remove a tree or replace a pole or replace piece of electrical equipment. And, of course, that takes time.”

“So, crews today (Wednesday) will work as fast as they can. We know nobody wants to be without power for an extended period of time,” said Mr. Tucker. “We’ll keep working and hopefully everybody will have power restored at some point this (Wednesday) evening.”

Based on the current damage, Delmarva Power expected service for most customers to be restored by end of the day Thursday. During the storm, more than 115,000 customers lost power and the company expects all customers, including those in the most heavily damaged areas, to have service restored by Friday evening.

Isaias’ violent punch of high and sustained winds, heavy rains and in some areas, tornadoes, caused extensive damage across Delmarva Power’s service area. Overnight, significant progress was made, restoring electric service to customers and managing major tree damage, broken poles, downed wires and damaged electric equipment.

Delmarva Power’s restoration effort included more than 800 personnel, including company crews, local contractors, and resources from several other companies from as far away as Florida and Texas.

“We understand that as outages go into another day and possibly into Friday for some, customers need to make plans for themselves and their family members and timely updates are important,” said Gary Stockbridge, Delmarva Power region president. “Our crews, along with support crews who joined us from other regions, worked through the night so we could not only assess the damage, but also begin restoring as many customers as possible. We appreciate our customers continued patience as we repair the significant damage caused by this destructive tropical storm.”

Delaware Electric Cooperative did not call crews in from out of state but had contract crews from in-state on standby before the storm. “And we absolutely needed their help, utility crews as well as 15 tree-trimming crews to help address some of these issues,” said Mr. Tucker.

Delmarva Power

Customers can visit delmarva.com, use the company’s mobile app, or contact the company at 800-898-8042 for the latest estimate of when service will be restored to their home or business.

Delmarva Power says it is important for customers to understand these estimates can, and do, change. Estimated times of restoration are based on current conditions and damage. When crews arrive on site and assess damage for a particular outage, the crew will provide an anticipated restoration time for customers in that area.

As restoration work continues, Delmarva Power urges customers to take safety precautions:

• stay away from downed power lines and report them to Delmarva Power immediately;

•Check on neighbors, friends, the elderly and others who may be without service;

•Exercise caution when using generators to power a home and never use a generator, grill or other similar devices indoors or in an attached garage.

All Delmarva Power personnel supporting the restoration effort will continue to have a high degree of situational awareness regarding safe work conditions and actions during the pandemic. The company will ensure personnel who are supporting Delmarva Power are abiding by all CDC and state government executive orders on social distancing and personal hygiene guidelines in the field and while on rest.

Additionally, Delmarva Power is following its storm restoration process, which prioritizes addressing life-threatening, safety and health situations, including critical customers such as hospitals, nursing homes, and fire and police facilities. The company will then work to repair equipment that will restore power to the greatest number of customers first, which will include repairing damage to the transmission system across the service area.

Delaware Electric Cooperative

Information on outages and service updates is available online at Delaware Electric Cooperative’s website: www.delaware.coop/outage-center.