State and federal government data shows that just five days after Hurricane Hermine made landfall just south of Tallahassee, more than 90 percent of homes without electricity had their power turned back on. A day before that, more than 85 percent of city customers had power restored the 4th day after Hermine.
The report, made public by the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA), plotted data points comparing Hurricane Hermine’s power restoration efforts against other storms in Florida and the United States. Another Category 1 storm, Hurricane Irene, struck across multiple states in 2011 and the power restoration for Irene took a little longer than efforts for post-Hermine. The data also highlights much longer recovery times for several storms that were similar in intensity to Hermine.
For some customers, however, the frustration had little to do with the lack of power, but rather the lack of information in terms of how long their family would have to do without.
“We went four days without power, and we consider ourselves lucky,” said one customer who lives in the Killearn neighborhood in northeast Tallahassee. “We were told the day after Hermine hit that it might be ‘several days’ before we got power back on, and that’s the only information we got until the lights came back on.”
Many Talgov customers relied on the website’s outage map, and while it provided customers with a clear picture of how widespread the outages were, it did little help them understand when power might be restored.
FMEA Executive Director Barry Moline acknowledged that communication could be improved in a release accompanying the report.
“We must do all we can to make sure impacted communities have a greater understanding of events and information during times of storm impact and recovery,” Moline said, but praised the overall recovery effort. “I applaud the city’s efforts to take a close look at what went well and what needs to be improved upon moving forward.”
Moline also called on all utilities to work together to continue to improve services and recovery times.
“The time for new action is now and FMEA is ready to lead this effort by calling on all utilities in Florida, including investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives and municipal electrics, to work together to identify and take advantage of best practices for issues like storm restoration and communicating with our customers.