Sept. 2, 2004, Columbia, SC - South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. is preparing for the possibility that Hurricane Frances could impact South Carolina.
"Although it is still unclear exactly where Hurricane Frances will make landfall, we are taking every precaution to have equipment, material and personnel in place to deal with any service interruptions," said Charles White, SCE&G's emergency preparedness coordinator.
White said SCE&G crews and support personnel are on alert and ready to respond should Frances lead to power outages or other storm-related damage in the company's service areas. "Whether its handling customer phone calls, assessing storm damage, or making repairs, we have people in place who are ready to go," he said. "We've developed a strong Employee Emergency Response Team with expertise in every facet of storm response. Our folks are ready to pitch in to do whatever is needed. We would use every available employee in the recovery effort if necessary."
This has already been a busy storm season for SCE&G crews, who were put to the test over the past few weeks by Hurricane Charley and Tropical Storm Gaston. "Our folks did an outstanding job of restoring power quickly and safely to customers who lost electricity as a result of these last two storms," said White. He added, though, that the threat posed by Hurricane Frances is potentially much greater than either of those storms.
"This is the kind of storm that can cause massive devastation, much like what we saw 15 years ago with Hurricane Hugo." In the wake of Hugo, which struck South Carolina in September 1989, 24 counties were declared federal disaster areas. More than 300,000 customers were left without electricity - some for weeks; 5,000 utility poles and 570 miles of wire had to be replaced.
As Frances approaches, White said SCE&G will hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In addition to having its own people on standby, the company has communicated with contract crews who can assist in power restoration efforts. SCE&G also has made calls to neighboring electric utilities to discuss the possible need for mutual assistance services.
SCE&G is also reminding its customers to be prepared, and offers them the following storm safety tips:
- Stay alert to storm advisories and evacuate if told to do so.
- Map out your route using roads specified by local and/or state authorities.
- Unplug stereos, televisions, computers and other appliances when the storm is imminent, or turn power off at the circuit breaker or fuse box.
- Have flashlights and fresh batteries on hand.
- After the storm, stay away from and do not touch downed power lines. Keep others away from downed lines as well. Contact SCE&G immediately.
- Do not touch tree limbs or other objects touching a power line. Never try to remove a tree limb or any object that is in contact with a power line. Contact SCE&G immediately.
- Don't open refrigerators/freezers during an outage unless absolutely necessary. Repeated openings cause cold air to escape and food to thaw more quickly.
For additional information about hurricane safety, visit SCE&G's website at www.sceg.com.