Line technicians from Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. are continuing restoration work in Ashe County and Watauga County, North Carolina, after the worst ice storm in recent history hit the "High Country" on Christmas day.
Linemen will be working the last 117 of the outages remaining in Ashe County today. Line technicians are also in full force today in Watauga County, continuing work on 2300 outages remaining there. While much progress is expected today, it will likely be Wednesday before full power restoration is complete.
In Ashe County, line technicians will be working at 60 locations where the system has been damaged. Members are asked to call if they don't have power because as these final problem areas are repaired, there may be single residence outages that would be difficult to detect.
More than 25,000 members were without power at the height of the outages. The ice storm not only damaged about half of the cooperative's 7000 miles of power lines, it also brought down massive amounts of trees, further damaging power lines and leaving behind 150 broken poles. Many of the remaining outage sources where the system is damaged are in remote areas of rough, mountainous terrain. In some cases, linemen must use bulldozers to get through debris, which means power poles must be set primarily by hand without the assistance of line trucks, which is much lengthier process.
"The things that make our mountain districts beautiful--the many trees, hillsides and rough terrain--also make it more difficult to restore power after such a severe weather event that has torn down so much of the system," said Renee Whitener, director of public relations.
"A large number of crews from 11 other utilities responded to our request for help and more than 300 linemen are working on power restoration," she continued. "We want to thank everyone who has had a part in feeding and housing all our line technicians so that they can continue to work in these tough conditions. Many of them have been here since Christmas morning, working long hours to get the rest of the power restored as quickly as possible," she added.
Assisting Blue Ridge line technicians are crews from neighboring cooperatives Rutherford, Randolph, Piedmont, EnergyUnited, UnionPower, Pee Dee, Lumbee River, and Central EMC, and Blue Ridge Energies as well as crews from Pike Corp., Carter Utility Services and Asplundh Tree Expert Co.