Mississippi Power crews work to restore service, bring evacuees home

Mississippi Power crews work to restore service, bring evacuees home


Published Oct. 9, 2016

8:30 p.m.: Mississippi Power’s south crew spent most of Sunday afternoon repairing a broken pole on a key feeder line that is preventing some evacuees from Hurricane Matthew from returning to the Georgetown area of Savannah, Ga.

The feeder line has about 4,800 customers on it, but it also powers a major wastewater treatment facility.

The Georgia National Guard is preventing those who evacuated from returning to this area due to the sewage issue unless they have credentials.

“We’ve got to get power back to that lift station so people can return home,” said South Team Leader Joe Cole. “We made a lot of progress today but we still have a lot of poles down. We still have a lot to do.”

Mississippi Power’s north crew was focused in a heavily wooded area covered with fallen trees. Before service can be restored, the north crew must work to get heavy trees off of downed lines and equipment.

The company’s storm team of 102 members was scheduled to stop working at about 8 p.m. Eastern time, but crews continue to work to restore power to as many customers as possible.

They will spend the night at a staging site in Brunswick, Ga., before returning to the area early Monday morning.

2:15 p.m.: One of the first jobs Mississippi Power crews are tackling is a broken pole on a main feeder line.

The team is assessing how to get equipment to it due to soggy ground and the location in the backyard of a house next to a fallen tree.

“This pole is the big issue here,” said Line Maintenance Supervisor Cary Moran. “This line has about 4,800 customers on it and getting this pole back up will bring back power to 2,000.”

The line also powered a lift station. A nearby road was closed due to raw sewage so restoring this pole will also allow a road to reopen.”

Crews were also walking the line removing limb debris with hot sticks.

12:30 p.m.: The first wave of Mississippi Power’s storm crew of 102 rolled into Savannah, Ga., to await their assignments for restoring power knocked out by Hurricane Matthew.

The caravan of about 50 vehicles, including 21 bucket trucks, made its way to hard-hit Savannah from the overnight staging area in Adel, Ga.

The rest of the crew should be arriving within the hour.

While en route, they were diverted to a new staging area — a Food Lion parking lot just east of the downtown area instead of the Savannah International Airport.

Savannah was the hardest-hit area in Georgia. At this time, 112,031 remain without power. Overall, 195,178 customers of sister utility Georgia Power are without power.

While waiting for their teammates to arrive, residents anxious to get their power restored  were happy to see utility trucks in their area.

“The cavalry is here,” one man yelled as he walked by.

“We salute y’all,” his sidekick chimed in.

A lady driving by rolled her window down and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

All of the nearby businesses are closed due to lack of power in the immediate area with the exception of a Chinese restaurant in a strip mall that was selling takeout. And they somehow had ice, a valuable commodity in the aftermath of a storm.

While tempting, the team decided not to risk a Chinese restaurant with no power and went with their Firehouse subs boxed lunches.

7:30 a.m.: Mississippi Power’s 102-person storm team left a staging site in Adel, Ga., early Sunday morning, bound for Savannah where they will be restoring power knocked out by Hurricane Matthew on Saturday.

According to Georgia Power’s outage map, 208,131 customers remained without power early Sunday, with 118,021 of those in Savannah.

The team is headed to the Savannah International Airport where they will pick up their job assignments.

“We might get some assignments along the way and start diverting folks, but right now, we’re headed to the airport,” said Storm Team Leader Melvin Roland.

One of the folks coordinating the recovery effort in Savannah is former Mississippi Power employee Shawn Welch, Georgia Power’s Distribution Operations Manager in Savannah.

“We’re ready,” said Bo Hall, a Mississippi Power electric serviceman and troubleshooter from Hattiesburg. “We go wherever we are needed.”

Mississippi Power’s team, which includes 74 linemen, was up early Sunday preparing for the day. Breakfast was served at 5:30, a safety briefing was held at 6:30 before departing to fuel up and make the roughly four-hour drive from Adel.

“We should get to Savannah around lunchtime, get our assignments and then get to picking up wire,” said Joe Schifano, leader of Mississippi Power’s north crew.


Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for more than 186,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power earned the 2015 ReliabilityOneTM Award for outstanding midsize utility for excellence in storm restoration and recovery efforts as well as being a leader in reliability, customer service and safety. Visit our websites at mississippipower.com and mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on TwitterLinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.