Power is expected to be restored by 8 p.m. Thursday to 98 percent of all Alabama Power customers who can receive it after tornadoes and high winds caused major damages statewide on March 19, the company said.
The remaining customers without power are in the hardest-hit areas of Jacksonville, which was struck by an EF3 tornado packing 140-mph winds. Crews are working around the clock to end those outages as safely and quickly as possible.
UPDATE: Alabama Power said all customers able to receive power now have it in the affected areas.
Thursday evening, final update:
All customers in Jacksonville, Southside, Heflin, Ashville, and other communities affected by the severe weather have their lights back on.
Thanks to the 1,828 men and women who replaced 420 poles, and strung miles of line to make it happen.
— Alabama Power (@alabamapower) March 23, 2018
Alabama Power Technology Support Supervisor Wesley Higgins said Customer Services fielded about 50,000 inquiries stemming from outages March 19-21. There were 33,074 overflow calls, 10,604 calls answered by automated voice response and 5,310 calls taken by employees. The online customer care team answered 49 Facebook contacts, 42 Twitter posts and 51 emails stemming from outages during the same period.
Volunteers are asked to wait until Friday, March 23 to assist in Jacksonville but Jacksonville State University is closed to the public until Monday, April 2. Volunteers should check in at the Jacksonville Community Center but may register ahead of time by calling 256-435-8115 or donate at gofundme.com/jsustrong. Donations of gift cards, toiletries and supplies should be sent to the First United Methodist Church Family Life Center (256-435-6021), city officials said.
In a tweet, the City of Jacksonville said donations needed include pre-packaged snacks, flashlights, batteries, safety glasses, work gloves, tarps and trash bags.
All donations can be made at the United Methodist Church of Jacksonville located behind McDonald’s in Jacksonville.
— City of Jacksonville (@Jacksonville_AL) March 22, 2018
JSU President John Beehler said it was “very fortunate” there was no loss of life during the tornado that tracked through the heart of the campus Monday night, leaving most buildings with roof damage. Dorms and nearby student apartments had extensive damages.
“While this has been a devastating event for our campus, we’re extremely thankful we were on spring break and that our students and faculty and staff were not on campus during this event because there could have been loss of life and a lot of injuries,” said Beehler, who became president in 2015.
JSU Director of Facilities and Planning David Thompson said recovery efforts have been “amazing.” He thanked Alabama Power for its efforts in getting the lights back on.