published Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Restoring power could take more than a week

  • photo
    Harold DePriest, president of EPB, addresses reporters questions outside EPB's Oak Street facility. Staff Photo by Ellis Smith / Chattanooga Times Free Press

Damage from the “unprecedented” 15-hour storm on April 27 left 119,000 homes and businesses were without power, said Harold DePriest, president of the Electric Power Board.

“Our region has just experienced the most violent, long and widespread series of storms in EPB history,” DePriest said Thursday.

EPB serves a total of 145,000 homes and about 25,000 businesses.

At present, 76,000 are still without power, he said.

The “only frame of reference we have” is the 1993 blizzard that left 74,000 customers in the dark, and knocked down 89 poles. The damage from that storm took eight days to reverse.

This one will almost certainly take longer, DePriest said.

“Because of the widespread nature of the damage, it’s more difficult for us to get crews, we had to reach further afield.”

Workers were able to restore power to between 60,000 and 70,000 yesterday afternoon, but further storms knocked the power right back out again, he said.

Crews from states as far north as Massachusetts, both Carolinas, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Florida and elsewhere in Tennessee are on their way, he said. In total, 1,000 workers will be working in the field, he said, with more on the way if he believes the increased manpower will help restore power faster.

The storm was the worst in history, causing more damage than ever before and leaving nearly half of EPB’s customers without power.

So far, the utility has counted 146 broken poles, and anticipates $6-$8 million in damage

For more information, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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