The opening of the 1999 hurricane season should remind south Mississippi residents that now is the time to prepare for this years potential version of Georges. Early planning can help ensure survival and a quicker return to normal life if a hurricane strikes the area again this year.
Unfortunately, we were forced to put our preparations to the test last year, said Mississippi Powers spokesman Kurt Brautigam. But, we learned a great deal from that event and expect to be even more prepared should we find ourselves in the same situation this year. While the restoration effort from our employees during Georges was outstanding and validated many of the steps we have in place, weve continued to refine our plans and have made adjustments that should allow us to be even more responsive.
Brautigam said procedural refinements have ranged from improving logistics of providing equipment and materials to line crews to enhancing methods of communicating with customers. The bottom line, he said, remains being able to restore electricity to customers as quickly and safely as possible.
The companys disaster plan includes safety precautions and detailed instructions for personnel to follow before, during and after a storm. Employees will check material supplies, the condition of equipment, tools, radios and communications systems vital in power restoration efforts.
In the event of an approaching hurricane, a designated group of employees will man the companys storm center in Gulfport. All restoration efforts are coordinated from this center. The companys disaster plan even has a contingency for an alternate storm center site in case the original is deemed unusable.
During and after a storm, employees pitch in and do whatever it takes to get the job of restoration done, Brautigam said. In addition to our crews working in the field, managers answer telephones, accountants help with logistics and administrative assistants help inventory supplies.
Aside from holding preparedness meetings for employees, Mississippi Power is making arrangements with other utilities to exchange crews and equipment if heavy storm damage occurs. As part of Southern Company, Mississippi Power will be able to call on its sister companies -- Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Savannah Electric -- for help.
Hurricanes are natural to our region -- we cannot do anything about that, Brautigam said. But we can and will be prepared to restore electricity as quickly and safely as possible in case another storm hits our area this year.
Mississippi Power Company serves more than 189,000 customers in 23 counties in southeast Mississippi. Mississippi Power is part of Southern Company, which serves more than 11 million people in the southeastern United States and is the largest private power producer in the nation.
Hurricane preparation tips
Taking steps to prepare for this years hurricane season can help remove a lot of stress in dealing with the trauma of a natural disaster. Here are some safety tips to help prepare for the event of a hurricane.
Keep automobiles full of gas during the hurricane season. Gas lines will be long if people are ordered to evacuate.
If you evacuate your home, remember to bring an ample supply of any prescription medicine a family member requires.
Keep a three to five day supply of non-perishable food and enough water (two quarts of water per day) for each family member. Remember to keep a manual can opener on hand.
Have a prearranged place the family can travel to in the event of evacuation. This will help in case the family gets separated. Leave at the first evacuation notification in order to avoid traffic jams.
Purchase extra supplies such as flashlights, batteries, containers to hold water, candles, hand-held radios, paper plates and plastic utensils.
Keep all important papers such as birth certificates, insurance policies, marriage licenses, immunization records and family photos together in an easily accessible place.