By General Manager Steve Stroshane
On July 19, a tornado, torrential rain and straight-line winds caused widespread damage and power outages for 9,000 co-op members across Polk-Burnett's service territory. Hardest hit were areas in Polk County, east of Luck, Milltown and Balsam Lake and north of Amery and Turtle Lake, especially the areas around Half Moon, White Ash, Pipe, Long, Big Round, Blake, Horseshoe and Staples lakes.
Polk-Burnett initiated storm restoration efforts immediately: By 6 a.m. Saturday, just 12 hours after the lights went out, all transmission lines, substations and 5,000 members were back on. By Sunday morning, power for 6,500 members had been restored. And by the end of that week, the lights were back on for almost all 9,000 co-op members, except a handful that needed additional repairs due to significant property damage.
We thank our many allies who came to our aid: We were assisted by crews from 11 neighboring cooperatives and three contractors with expertise in tree clearing, underground and overhead power line construction. More than 100 people were working in the field and a dozen more were coordinating restoration efforts and outage communications in our Centuria office.
Reliable power and information: If you followed us on Facebook that week in July, you know that our goal was not only to restore power quickly, but to keep you informed. Daily updates were seen by thousands of people and our posts received more than 75,000 likes, shares and comments. Our online outage map had 8,739 visits and our call center received 7,539 phone calls.
We thank our members and community for your patience and support during storm restorations.
Be prepared: "Our number one goal is always safe, reliable power, but Wisconsin weather can be a tough opponent," said Operations Manager Ed Johansen. "Please like our Facebook page to stay in touch and sign up for outage text alerts for those times when Mother Nature gets the best of us."
We were fortunate to have 110 people working in the field and a dozen more in the office to coordinate storm restoration and outage communications. Thank you to crews from neighboring co-ops: St. Croix Electric, Pierce Pepin, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jump River, East Central Energy, Price, Taylor, Vernon, Riverland and MiEnergy, plus Zielies Tree Service, Okay Construction and PUSH underground contractors.
Storm Safety Reminders
STAY AWAY FROM DOWNED POWER LINES.
KEEP ELECTRONICS AWAY FROM WATER.
HAVE A BACKUP PLAN IF YOU NEED POWER FOR MEDICAL DEVICES.
USE GENERATORS ACCORDING TO CODE SO THEY DON'T BACKFEED ONTO THE GRID OR RELEASE DANGEROUS EMISSIONS.
TURN OFF ELECTRONICS AND APPLIANCES.