WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Preparation and response: Two elements that best describe the difference in how Hurricane Sandy and the June “derecho” were handled by local utility companies.
When Sandy first came on the radar last week, power companies had ample time to assemble emergency response crews.
But the derecho was as powerful as it was surprising, and the power companies drew the ire of millions as customers were left for days — and in some cases, weeks — without power.
This time around, with multiple days notice, the power companies were ready.
Pepco Vice President for Power Delivery David Velasquez says it was more than just the time his company had to prepare for the storm that contributed to their efficient execution following Sandy. He says the number of affected customers paled in comparison to the derecho.
“In the derecho, we had over 400,000 customers out at peak. I think almost 480,000,” Velasquez said. “This time we had about 44,000 out at peak.”
He also credits lower wind speeds, which allowed Pepco crews to tend to power lines from bucket trucks for all but two of the hours the storm was in the area –- something they couldn’t do during the derecho.
The company also brought in reinforcements from other states –- 14,000 outside workers –- to help restore power in a timely fashion.
Pepco originally told customers to prepare for a week of no power, but Region President Todd Graham expects all D.C. area customers to have power fully restored by Thursday
That’s a response time of less than 48 hours.