Monday marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through the end of November. Alabama Power is prepared for the season and the potential for severe summer weather, and customers should make sure they also have their storm plans in place.
Hurricane experts have predicted a more active season this year. Even before it has officially begun, the season has produced two named tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha.
When Alabama experiences a hurricane, its effects can be felt throughout the state. Along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property. Storm surge is produced by water being pushed to the shore by strong winds.
Across the rest of the state, flooding is a major threat from hurricanes, which can produce more than 6 inches of rain per hour. Slower-moving and larger hurricanes can dump rain for days on communities in their path.
As for the damaging winds wrought by hurricanes, they can also spawn tornadoes, wreaking even greater destruction.
This year’s season comes with the additional challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During this unprecedented time, Alabama Power is taking additional measures to protect the safety and health of the public and its employees while continuing its ongoing mission of maintaining reliable service. Alabama Power’s storm team has planned and prepared for the potential of hurricanes or tropical storms hitting the company’s service territory in the coming months, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
For example, along the Gulf Coast, staging areas for major storm-restoration efforts traditionally can house up to 3,000 workers, where they will eat, rest and have access to equipment, fuel and supplies. This year, the company will centralize its core operations and fueling, and deploy a larger number of smaller staging areas, to allow for necessary social distancing.
Outside crews assisting with restoration efforts will receive briefings and instructions electronically, prior to joining the operation, and will be housed separately to prevent the spread of the virus.
“In our storm season preparation, we always plan for the worst-case scenarios, but hope for the best,” said Kristie Barton, Power Delivery general manager for Alabama Power. “Our team is ready to respond safely and quickly should a hurricane affect our state.”
Safe social distancing is also important for customers to follow when they see Alabama Power crews working to restore power. Individuals should maintain a distance of 6 feet from employees and company representatives working in the field.
If you don’t already have your hurricane plan in place, here are some questions to answer in making sure you and your family are ready for the season:
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route? (You need at least two options.)
- What is my family/household communication plan?
- Do I need to update my emergency preparedness kit?
As you prepare or update your plan, tailor it to your daily needs and responsibilities. Discuss how people in your network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets or other challenges, such as operating medical equipment. Some additional factors to consider when developing your plan:
- The different ages of people in your household.
- Responsibilities for assisting others.
- Dietary needs.
- Medical needs, including prescriptions and equipment.
- Accommodating and meeting the needs of family members with disabilities.
- What to do with pets or service animals.
Identify in advance a friend or relative who doesn’t live in an evacuation zone who can provide shelter for you and your family in case in case you have to leave home.