The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season hit with full force, but the industry and ULCS were up to the challenge. Even before the season start the industry and ULCS were tested with an April 13th Easter Windstorm Event impacting the Midwest, MidAtlantic, and Northeast. ULCS was more than up to the task. Under then relatively new COVID operating procedures, 950 ULCS employees safely and rapidly responded to 13 different utility requests for OH Lines restoration crew support.
Tropical Storm Cristóbal
Customers did not have to wait long in the hurricane season for Cristóbal to arrive. In early June, Cristóbal made landfall in Louisiana. ULCS supported Gulf costal utilities from Florida to Louisiana.
The end of July found ULCS pre-event resource planning with Florida utilities as Isaias made landfall as a tropical storm in Florida. As the forecast changed and the storm intensified as it traveled north, ULCS engaged with coastal Carolinas utilities. On Monday, August 3 Isaias made landfall in North Carolina as a CAT1 and proceeded inland up through the Northeast spawning multiple tornados and dropping flooding rains from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire. ULCS supported seven different utilities in power restoration.
Hurricanes Laura and Delta
Cameron, Louisiana awoke early in the morning of August 27, 2020 to Hurricane Laura making landfall as strong Category 4 hurricane. Situated along the Texas-Louisiana border, Hurricane Laura barreled the area with sustained winds of 150 mph, which was just shy of a Category 5 classification. Initially described as an “unsurvivable storm” by the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Laura sadly took the lives of at least 36 people in the United States and inflicted an estimated $8.7 billion in insured damage in Louisiana and Texas.
At peak, nearly 989,000 homes and businesses were without power. Approximately 500 ULCS employees had prepared ahead of time and pre-staged on Sunday, August 23 in anticipation of the storm. Of these crews, Region 112 alone sent 90 transmission crew members to Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is the location where the most catastrophic damage occurred. The crews spent several weeks working to restore what the storm destroyed, which included rebuilding a 500kV line and installing 11 new structures. Crews from ULCS Mid-Atlantic, Carolinas, and Southeast Regions also responded.
Unfortunately, just six weeks after Laura, another hurricane – Hurricane Delta – made landfall just 12 miles away. Labeled as a Category 2 storm, Hurricane Delta had winds sustaining 100 mph as it struck Creole, Louisiana on the evening of October 9. At peak, nearly 700,000 were reported being without power. Luckily damage was less severe, enabling power to be restored more quickly than seen previously with Hurricane Laura. A total of three ULCS crews from Region 102 traveled from Statesville, North Carolina to aid in restoration efforts in the Monroe, Louisiana area. In addition, crews from regions South and Southeast aided in the storm recovery. These crews spent a week restoring power. As of October 16, power was restored to all customers!
Hurricanes Sally, Delta, Zeta and Eta
The Atlantic hurricane season came to a close at the end of November as one of the most active and devastating seasons on record. ULCS storm responses for Hurricanes Sally, Delta, and Zeta Eta rounded out the historic storm season for ULCS. Kudos to the ULCS employees, customers, and utilities in Louisiana for persevering and remaining resilient in weathering and recovering from five named storms to make LA landfall in this truly historic Atlantic Hurricane Season.