Restoring power after storms takes preparation

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 23, 2017

June 1 is a day known well by most of the people living on the Gulf Coast. We are no strangers to hurricane season, and neither are the emergency personnel who respond to such storms.

Recently, Item staff participated in a tour of Mississippi Power’s Operation Center in Gulfport that serves as  the company’s command center during a major storm or event.

The facility was built in 2008 in response to the effects of Hurricane Katrina in regard to response and restoration.

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During a tour of the building, it’s a good thing the company supplies its own power because the sheer amount of screens would drive a monthly utility bill through the roof.

From customer service to distribution and technology centers, screens plaster the walls and desks.

Employees are provided with up-to-the-minute information on outages and weather patterns so that crews can respond as quickly and as best as they can.

Employees from the highest level of management to the newest of linemen prepare year round for the inevitable storm, taking time to ensure their own families have a safety plan.

But when a storm hits, they bunk up in every office and available space until it’s safe to travel.

During Hurricane Katrina, some of their offices flooded in Gulfport, inhibiting the ability to restore power in an organized way.

By creating an operation center further north and ensuring it can withstand heavy winds, it’s much less likely for it to go offline.

It can even sustain itself on generators for 72 hours, a long time during a storm in the heat of a Mississippi summer.

With that in mind, a lot has changed in the past 12 years, and in the event of another category five storm, it seems the state will be much more prepared to take on any challenge it faces.