Power goes out and utility workers jump in - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Power goes out, utility workers jump in

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – A day after strong storms knocked out power, thousands are with service again. That's thanks to the diligent work of utility companies that jump into action to get the outage problem fixed.

Horry Electric Chef Engineer Reed Cooper says they had crews dispatched across the county before the rumbles of thunder ceased. After getting wind of the severe weather threatening Horry County, Cooper called in his utility workers. This is in addition to the dispatchers that handle the call center and staff to man central control room.

When the storm reached Horry County Sunday evening, it was accompanied by a flood of power outage reports to the company's call center. According to Cooper, engineers use these reports along with their monitoring system to pinpoint the source of the outage.

Cooper says while his crews work quickly to restore power, they always make safety a top priority, especially when working in summer's hot temperatures.

"Because of the heat, with the guys having to wear all of this protective gear and equipment, and working 10, 12 hours straight without being able to take breaks, that's a safety factor we have to take into consideration for our in house personnel," explained Cooper.

Coopers says Horry Electric dispatched every one of their available crews. He also mentioned, as of Monday afternoon, Horry Electric had some of their workers in Virginia right now helping out other utility companies restore power to customers who lost service during Friday's storms.

Horry Electric spokeswoman Penelope Hinson says communicating with customers during an outage is crucial. Hinson says they rely on local media and the company website to provide real time power outage updates. Recently they've also started to utilize Facebook and Twitter.

"What's interesting is that a lot of people without power are the ones emailing us and messaging us. This is their lifeline and we're able to not just individually respond to them, but we can respond to all of our members," Hinson said.

Hinson explained Horry Electric responds to power outages caused by a storm the same way companies across the industry do. Horry Electric was happy to report most of its 8,000 affected customers had power back by Monday around 2:30 a.m.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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