As I have mentioned several times here on Atomic Insights, I hold a special place in my heart for people who respond and rebuild electrical power systems after a damaging storm. When I was growing up, I clearly remember my Dad’s “storm training” days. Dad was a supervising engineer for Florida Power and Light and completed a 35 year career with the company.
One day per month, he was able to be at home a few minutes later in the morning and dressed in casual clothes rather than his usual coat and tie. He always made sure that remembered his hard hat, especially on those days.
I only remember one big storm – Hurricane Cleo – hitting our South Florida home during my formative years, but one of my memories from that storm was Dad leaving soon after it was gone to help man the storm response center.
Here is a letter from a good friend – that some of you know – from the storm center set up to respond to Hurricane Gustov. It is about 4 days old, but still valuable information from a unique point of view.
I’m starting my third night shift in the Entergy Nuclear storm center in Jackson , MS . I have a few minutes and I thought I’d give you all a Hurricane Gustov update and some observations of how things are going. Conditions in Jackson are relatively quiet, so please don’t be concerned for my safety. We are not expecting tropical storm force winds here, but we are prepared in the event the weather turns bad.
First of all, we are all very blessed! Up until the last 12 hours before landfall things looked very grim. We were preparing for a strong Cat 4 storm and major devastation. Then the storm unexpectedly began to loose strength. We are only beginning to get reports of damage, but it is certain the storm made landfall with less force than everyone expected.
That positive news aside, we are not out of the woods. It was about this time during Katrina that we thought the worst was past, and then the levies failed. There are tornadoes popping up around LA and MS. Many roads are blocked by debris. A friend of mine graduated from Police academy in NOLA this past Thursday, and he’s sending updates from the French Quarter. They are without power and cell phone service is down. What a way to begin the job as a New Orleans Police Officer!
We safely shutdown two of our nuclear plants in advance of bad weather; one because of regulations that require us to have the reactors shutdown before the arrival of hurricane force winds, the other because there is no load on the electrical system for it to supply. We are monitoring conditions and working with FEMA and the NRC and will make conservative decisions about when we’ll safely restart those plants. Our other nuclear plants are operating normally.
News from our people in the field indicate we have a big job ahead of us. One report indicates the electrical transmission & distribution system in the southern half of LA is “on the ground,” and conditions are “worse than Katrina.” 750,000 customers are known to be without power, and we expect that number to rise. There are 119 high voltage transmission lines and 35 substations damaged. Weather conditions will not permit detailed assessment of conditions to begin until tomorrow. It’s quite likely that some customers will be without power for weeks.
We’re about to reminded again of how quickly life becomes difficult when the power lines are cut. Keep those people, and our workers who will soon begin the dangerous and difficult job of rebuilding the electrical system in your prayers!
God bless & be safe!