Power & water companies prepared ahead of Matthew

Power & water companies prepared ahead of Matthew
Workers with SCE&G test their bucket trucks (Source: Live 5)
Workers with SCE&G test their bucket trucks (Source: Live 5)
Charleston Water System trucks fill parking lot in Hanahan (Source: Live 5)
Charleston Water System trucks fill parking lot in Hanahan (Source: Live 5)

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - More than 250 off-system electric and gas workers are making their way to the Lowcountry to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Kim Asbill, a spokeswoman for South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), said workers including linemen and tree trimmers, are coming from Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other parts of South Carolina.

Right now many workers are headed to Florida to help with the effort there, however workers have been requested to come to the Lowcountry.

"All of the neighboring utilities belong to a network called the Southeastern Electric Exchange," Asbill said. "If you have crews to offer you can offer your crews up, and if you have crews that you need you can put your request in."

2,000 employees will be working for SCE&G throughout the course of the storm, making sure trucks are prepped with the necessary supplies.

"We prepare year round for this so we are ready," Asbill said. "We do our tree trimming, making sure the trees are off the lines. With something like this we don't know what to anticipate as far as if it's going to be a category two or three, something serious, but we do know there's going to be wind involved with it and we do know there will be outages."

Management is urging customers to heed Governor Nikki Haley's evacuation suggestion.

"Safety is our number one priority," Asbill said. "If she is urging the evacuation of your county we definitely want to make sure folks are doing that."

If residents plan to stay in the area, be mindful to stay away from downed power lines.

"With the high winds, if you're staying at your home and there are trees blowing on power lines, it could knock them down," Asbill said. "Always assume downed power lines are energized. Report them to the power companies."

Administrators at SCE&G also say they do not plan to cut power off to any communities, especially the islands ahead of the storm.

"We were hearing rumors about cutting power and gas to those areas," Asbill said. "That is not the case. Rest assured in advance of the storm we will not be cutting power."

Field crews will be working on 12-hour shifts for the foreseeable future, all dependent on weather.

Berkeley Electric Cooperative

Berkeley Electric Cooperative also has additional crews coming to the Lowcountry.

A spokesperson for the company said there are a total of 19 in-house crews. Twelve additional line crews and 14 service crews have been contracted to assist with future restoration efforts.

The Cooperative is also prepared to bring in at least 12 more right-of-way crews.

Administrators are asking customers to report outages to 1-888-253-4232.

The company will have nearly 100 incoming lines open to take calls, however some circuits may be busy.

Members can also report outages through the co-op's Smarthub mobile and online app. If members have evacuated the area, they can also use the Smarthub app to determine if their home has power before returning. Current outages can be viewed at outageviewer.becsc.com.

Water companies prepared      

Administrators at the Charleston Water System say their facilities are prepared for Hurricane Matthew.

Chief Operating Officer Andrew Fairey said the company follows a very detailed plan for severe weather events.

"We've been in preparation for several days now," Fairey said. "We've completed those plans and are ready for the storm."

Over the last few days crews have moved their equipment from the North Charleston location to their facility in Hanahan.

Backhoes, buffalo water tanks, and air compressors fill the parking off Hanahan Road.

Fairey said he's confident heading into the weekend.

"At the Charleston Water System we are committed to keeping the water up and running," Fairey said. "We did not lose water system pressure during Hurricane Hugo, and all intentions are we will do that throughout this event."

While there are bound to be power outages across the Lowcountry, Fairey adds it should not affect the water system.

"We have full generators at all of our facilities, so our system can run totally off the power grid for well over a week," he said. "So we have booster stations throughout the system, and many of them are actually fueled by natural gas that's piped in so we don't even have to worry about getting fuel to them."

As for anticipated issues they could deal with, workers are keeping an eye on the amount of rainfall and the high winds.

"You could have a tree uproot and damage a water line," Fairey said. "A lot of time someone will hit a fire hydrant with a piece of equipment or something like that, but typically for a storm like this we'll go through without any issues of treating water or the supply."

Managers add if you are experiencing issues with your water supply to report the problem to the proper agency.

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