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Centerpoint’s Emergency Operations Plan for Restoring Power

After a hurricane, be prepared to be without power for two weeks.



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Hurricane season officially began on June 1st, and officials have urged that we all have our own emergency operations plan —  should one strike. Customers need to be prepared to be without power for two weeks or longer, depending on the severity of the storm.

No two storms are alike, and that makes it difficult to forecast what the exact damage to the electric system could be or how long outages could last. David Baker is with Centerpoint.

“You are, you just took one of the lines from my speech! No two storms are alike. They can have different wind speeds, they can hover over an area.”

Tropical Storm Alison hovered over the area for days back in 2001, resulting in flooding. After a hurricane, Baker says Centerpoint’s own Emergency Operations Plan is initiated.

“After a storm has passed and it’s safe enough for our personnel to get out in the field, we will go and energize any equipment that is not damaged. And simultaneously to this, we bring in about 800 contractors to do an assessment to understand where the damage is at, and how bad.”

Priority is given to water treatment facilities, sewage treatment plants, hospitals and so on, but the goal is to get as many people back on as fast as possible. And as no two hurricanes are alike, Baker says each one comes with new lessons for the next time — like with Hurricane Ike.

“You know, we set up staging sites. It’s almost like a camp for everybody to come in to — trucks to be stored, fuel, you know, to be fed, to do laundry. We had over 11,000 linemen and tree-trimmers from up to 35 states, so one kind of lesson we learned was, you know, more staging sites spread out further apart, and being able to handle, you know, a manageable number of people.”

What is the responsibility of the consumer?

“Power’s gonna go out, so I always ask everybody — have a plan in case power goes out. You know, especially if you have somebody who may need some kind of equipment for health reasons. Next, as far as after the storm, what folks can do — at least for, you know, the first few days, don’t call and tell (us) your lights are out. What we do ask is, if you have power lines that are down in your area, to call us.”

Centerpoint has information on hurricane preparedness on its website.

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