Pepco: Multi-Day Power Outages Possible from 'Frankenstorm'
Pepco warns that Hurricane Sandy could be a "potentially catastrophic event."
Pepco's pre-hurricane message to customers on Friday: Be prepared, and be patient.
Hurricane Sandy—dubbed Frankenstorm—"has the potential to cause devastating damage to our service territory," Pepco warned.
"[Tens] or even hundreds of thousands of customers could lose power during this potentially catastrophic event," and multi-day outages are a possibility, according to a Pepco statement.
“We’re hearing forecasts that we could see heavy sustained winds for up to 48 hours as this storm makes an agonizingly slow track across our overall system,” Pepco President Thomas H. Graham said. Heavy rain also is expected, according to weather services.
Crews will start fixing downed power lines as soon as the storm's winds subside below 35 mph, "which is [the] maximum safe wind for workers to go up in bucket trucks per safety regulations," according to the statement.
“If winds are too high ... it could be as long as even a day or two before our crews could safely start working to restore power," Graham added.
To prepare for Hurricane Sandy, Pepco has mobilized all of its employees, "and is locking in availability of the more than 400 contractors already here working on our system," the statement added.
The company also is requesting 2,500 additional line personnel through mutual assistance groups—some from as far away as Tennessee, Pepco told Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner.
"The allocation of those crews who will be available will be determined when we have more detailed projections of where damage is expected to occur on our system," the statement continued.
Montgomery County also is preparing for Hurricane Sandy.
"Our [county] has had this storm in sight from the beginning, and our people believe we are as prepared as we can be," Berliner wrote in an email statement. "The combination of a weak [power] distribution system and a strong storm is not good."
"[Mutual assistance] crews will be called [in] by many utilities throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. I do hope that [Pepco has] improved [its] communication operations since the [derecho] storm this past June, but only time will tell," Berliner added.
Montgomery County departments are checking to be sure that staff, equipment and contractors are ready for emergency activation. "Some of the pre-planning includes: plans for debris removal and traffic control, identifying possible shelter locations, working to clear catch basins in areas known to flood, checking area dams and preparing emergency rescue teams," according to a county statement.
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