LIPA, National Grid Prepare For Hurricane Season
As Long Island enters the height of the 2010 hurricane season, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and National Grid conducted its major hurricane season drill in preparation for emergency response and restoration if a hurricane makes landfall in LIPA’s service territory. The annual event was monitored by the Red Cross as well as by the New York State Office of Emergency Management and the emergency management offices of Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City.
“While we continually work towards planning and preparing for major storms, the reality is that no utility can ever be 100% storm proof” said LIPA President and CEO Kevin S. Law, “however, these drills provide us with a comprehensive game plan ultimately putting LIPA and National Grid in the best position to restore our system as quickly and safely as possible.”
National Grid and its employees are prepared to respond quickly and safely in the event of any weather related emergencies that may affect LIPA’s electric customers and National Grid’s gas customers, as witnessed during the heat wave and the storms in March and June,” said John Bruckner, Senior VP Long Island Transmission and Distribution, National Grid. “We are prepared and continue to train to further improve on our preparedness to ensure a smooth and coordinated storm response for Long Islanders.”
“We are making concerted efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of families throughout Nassau County,” said Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano. “From enhancements on our 911 system to emergency drills such as this one, we are preparing to best safeguard our residents from the threat of a hurricane.”
“The weather events of earlier this year have taught us ‘expect the unexpected,’ and the importance of these drills is to enhance coordination and communication during an actual emergency,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.
This year’s hurricane drill will include new operating procedures and an updated communications plan that LIPA has implemented as part of the feedback the utility received from the March Nor’easter and last month’s Microburst storm that affected thousands of customers in the town of North Hempstead.
Highlights of the communications plan includes a special phone system that allows LIPA to call customers experiencing outages to update them on their status, as well as a dedicated phone line, where customers can leave their number for a callback from LIPA to receive the latest information on the restoration status of their home or business. Over the next few weeks LIPA will also complete upgrades to its Storm Center website that will provide better information and will allow customers to report outages online rather than using a telephone. Furthermore, LIPA is developing future plans to communicate with customers through text messaging and to communicate with smart phones and other personal communication devices.
“The lessons we learned from the previous storms are invaluable,” said Law. “This drill will provide us with a better blueprint to make sure we communicate with our customers effectively apprising them on outages and restoration times while also working with elected officials and local governments, so we can put a plan in motion to expedite the restoration process.”
LIPA’s Storm Center at http://www.lipower.org/stormcenter is available 24/7 for updates, outage information and storm restoration progress reports.
To help minimize storm damage to LIPA’s electric system, LIPA has an aggressive “tree trimming” program throughout the year to identify and trim tree limbs in rights of way and along easements that could potentially cause outages during or after a storm. Additionally, customers are urged to have trees on private property surveyed independently to be assured that their trees or bushes are not experiencing dangerous and weakening rot. Tree limbs that come in contact with electric lines remain the major cause of customer outages during storms, accounting for over 90% of all service disruptions.
Well in advance of a hurricane or tropical storm reaching Long Island, LIPA’s customers are encouraged to follow these storm preparation recommendations to help ensure their families safety and comfort:
• Develop a family plan for survival and property protection. Rehearse the plan so everyone knows what to do.
• Have flashlights, battery-operated radios and extra batteries on hand. Check the batteries to make sure they are fresh.• Know the hurricane risks in your
area. Learn the storm surge history and elevation of your area. Learn the location of official shelters or make plans for a local hotel or motel. Be prepared to take alternate routes to these locations as main streets maybe closed.
• Learn safe routes inland away from the ocean or Long Island Sound.
• If your residence is in a potential flood or storm surge zone, be prepared to evacuate when officials recommend
• Arrange now for elderly and others with special needs such as those who depend on electric life-support devices. Alert LIPA customer service and sign up for LIPA’s Critical Care Program (1-800-490-0025).
• Inventory personal property; safely secure all records and valuable documents in a watertight place.
• Have material available to protect your doors and windows. Boarding or shuttering windows is significantly more effective than taping windows which barely strengthens the window and will not protect at all against flying debris.• Put together a family hurricane
evacuation kit that includes bottled water, bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows, and appropriate prescription medicines.
• Ensure that enough non-perishable food and water supplies are on hand. NOAA suggests 1 gallon of water per person per day.
Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed of dead wood.
• Determine where to move a boat in an emergency.• Provide for pets.
If a hurricane or major tropical storm damages the region, Long Islanders are strongly cautioned to stay away from downed power lines. Immediately after the storm, outages will be evident to LIPA via its computerized control systems. LIPA’s computer systems automatically detect neighborhood service interruptions and begin the restoration process by alerting systems operators of the outage. However, should anyone notice a downed electric line or experience a service interruption, call 1-800-490- 0075. In addition, downed wires might end up covered by tree limbs or leaves, so be careful when letting children play outside after a storm.