Mississippi Power ready for 2001 hurricane season

Even though south Mississippi dodged a direct hit again last year, the recent memory of Hurricane Georges three years ago should be enough to remind residents to seriously prepare for the arrival of hurricane season. Early planning can help ensure survival and a quicker return to normal life if a hurricane should strike the area this year. “Last year was a fairly active hurricane season and this year is predicted to be the same,” said Mississippi Power Company’s spokesman Kurt Brautigam. “Even though the Mississippi Gulf Coast was spared a direct hit last year, several storms have made landfall along the southeastern United States the past couple of years, so it’s necessary for us to be prepared. We continue to refine our hurricane plans in order to be as responsive as possible if and when the time comes.” Brautigam said procedural refinements in the company’s hurricane planning have ranged from improving the logistics of getting equipment and materials to crews out in the field 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. As the storm season approaches, employees will check supplies and the condition of all equipment, tools, radios and communications systems vital in large-scale power restoration efforts. The company’s disaster plan includes detailed instructions for personnel to follow before, during and after a storm. In the event of an approaching hurricane, a designated group of MPC employees will man the company’s storm center in Gulfport. All restoration efforts are coordinated from this center. As a part of the company-wide plan, every employee has some kind of assigned storm-related duty. “During and after a storm, employees pitch in and do whatever it takes to get the job done,” Brautigam said. “In addition to the crews working in the field, for example, managers might answer telephones, accountants might help with logistical arrangements and administrative assistants could help inventory supplies.” Mississippi Power also makes arrangements with other utilities for additional crews and equipment if heavy storm damage occurs. As part of the Southern Company, Mississippi Power will be able to call on help from its sister companies--Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Savannah Electric. “Hurricanes are natural to our region, we can’t do anything about that,” Brautigam said. “But we can and will be prepared to restore electricity as quickly and safely as possible in the event a storm hits our area this year.” Mississippi Power Company serves more than 191,000 customers in 23 counties in southeast Mississippi. Mississippi Power is part of Southern Company, pne of the largest producers of electricity in the nation.