Cooperatives in the Carolinas and southern Virginia certainly had a busy day today. Hurricane Florence hit the shores near Wilmington, NC, early this morning, thankfully at less force than the Category 5 forecasters at one time expected. But there was plenty of power in the storm to knock out power to thousands of homes. NRTC provided systems to help one cooperative, Wake Electric Membership Corp. in the Raleigh-Durham area, organize guest crews, pinpoint the outages and get the lights back on as soon as possible.
During hurricane season a year ago, Doug Lambert, NRTC’s Director of Technical Solutions, volunteered his help with two Georgia cooperatives to set up a combination of workforce management systems and analytics technologies. Lambert traveled down to North Carolina several days ago as Florence began moving toward the coast. “Essentially, I’m embedded with [Wake EMC’s] team and ready to assist them,” he said.
Lambert set up a data collection sensor tool and database that generates new data every five minutes. “The idea is that with these two pieces, you can go into any co-op and duplicate these efforts with little modification,” he said.
During the worst of the storm today, Wake had an online map to keep track of outages as they occurred as well as how quickly Wake crews, augmented by several guest crews, would able to restore service. From all indications, the process was very efficient.
At 9 a.m. this morning, the map showed only 38 outages in Wake EMC’s seven-county area. But as the storm moved further inland, co-op members felt more of its effects. At the peak, around 2 p.m. (pictured), 12.59 percent of Wake customers (5,517 in total) were experiencing outages. As of a few minutes before 5 p.m., however, the outage total was down to 225.