by Terry Rogers
After the devastation in the Bahamas when Hurricane Dorian unleashed winds above 200 miles per hour for several days, there was concern that the powerful storm would strike the southern East Coast of the United States. The storm was one that proved to be difficult to predict so preparations were made all along the East Coast should the hurricane move farther east than expected. Several employees of the City of Milford Electric Department were dispatched to Florida in order to help with any rebuilding efforts necessary.
“Two of the great benefits of public power is the local control and decision-making combined with knowing that our local electric utility has the back-up support from other public power agencies in Delaware and across the country if we face an emergency,” City Manager Eric Norenberg said. “As Dorian approached Florida, Milford, New Castle and Newark were able to spare crew members and equipment to aid Florida, knowing we would have backup locally. At the time, it appeared that Dorian would be a devastating storm for Florida and all available assistance was needed. I was proud that we could lend a hand.”
Although Florida did not sustain direct impact and damage from the storm, there was still some concern that areas in South and North Carolina could be impacted. The crew from Milford was released from New Smyrna Beach, FL, and sent to South Carolina in order to assist with impacted utilities there. While on the scene, the crews could assist with setting new poles and power lines, working as part of the local crews to rebuild the power distribution network to restore power to customers as quickly as possible.
On September 5, when it was clear that Hurricane Dorian would not impact the Carolinas as severely as originally thought, the Milford crews were sent home, but this does not lessen the importance of this type of back-up service. Norenberg explained that the American Public Power Association (APPA) gets to work as soon as a storm or other emergency looks imminent, receiving the requirements and needs from the local communities and then put out the call to utilities across the country to match available resources needed.
“There are several benefits to this shared assistance,” Norenberg said. “To the assisted community, power is restored much more quickly because more skilled workers and specialized equipment are available. There isn’t a current direct benefit to Milford, but we are all but certain that there will be storm impacting Delaware at some point in the future. We are glad to know we have the resources of DEMEC and the American Public Power Association (APPA) behind us when we need it.”
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