Mississippi Power prepares for hurricane season

As the summer approaches, Mississippi Power employees have again been reviewing plans and conducting training in preparation for tropical storm activity. Last year was a relatively quiet storm season for South Mississippians, especially after one of the more active hurricane seasons in recent years in 2002, but each year brings new threats and possibilities.

“You can never let down your guard when it comes to hurricane season,” said company spokesman Kurt Brautigam. “Storm preparedness is an integral task for any utility serving coastal areas. Our emergency restoration plans are extensive and we refine them each year. We’re confident Mississippi Power can and will be prepared to restore electricity as quickly and safely as possible in the event a major storm hits our area.”

As soon as there is a possibility of a hurricane making landfall along or near the Mississippi Coast, arrangements will be made to move equipment and material into areas expected to be affected. Additional line crews and tree trimmers from other companies will be called on and mobilized, if necessary, and sources of food and lodging to accommodate them will have been identified and contacted. Emergency communication procedures for customers, the media and employees will also be put into effect.

“If a storm comes our way, our first priority is to ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the electric system before and during the storm,” said Brautigam. “Once the storm passes, that’s when we’ll see the results of all our planning and preparations. The bottom line then is to restore electricity to all customers who are able to receive it as quickly and safely as possible.

“The first thing we do after a storm passes is determine the location and scope of damage and what’s necessary to begin repairs. The important thing is to prioritize needs and match them with all available resources. We try to restore service to important public services initially, while at the same time working to re-energize those facilities that will affect the most customers.”

Every Mississippi Power employee has a specific storm assignment. In addition to those employees working in the field or overseeing outside crews, other personnel are assigned to handle the logistics and supplies necessary to feed and house visiting crews, who may number in the thousands depending on the severity of damage.

“We’ll also have additional communications people available to ensure that customers are aware of what we’re doing and how it affects them,” said Brautigam. “We understand that getting the lights back on is probably one of the biggest morale boosters for all of us putting our lives back together after a storm.

“It would be nice to think we won’t have to deal with a storm this year, but we know we will sooner or later. That’s why every year we plan and train and prepare as much as we possibly can.”

Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, serves more than 193,000 customers in the 23 counties of Southeast Mississippi.

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