Hurricane Irene swept across the Eastern Seaboard over the weekend leaving more than 2 million people without power, including hundreds of thousands of co-op consumer-members.
“High winds and heavy rains resulted in damage to our lines and poles,” said Ricky Bywaters, manager of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s Bowling Green District office. The Fredericksburg, Va.-based co-op reported 21,000 of its consumer-members without power the afternoon of Aug. 28, hours after tropical storm-strength winds began battering the co-op’s service territory.
Irene made landfall near Nags Head, N.C., Aug. 27. While highest sustained winds of 85 mph meant the storm was a Category 1 hurricane, its massive size and skirting track caused problems for co-ops well inland. Parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware were pummeled with winds exceeding 60 mph and torrential rains most of Saturday.
“All parts of our system were affected” said Anne Whaples, manager of cooperative communications for Choptank Electric Cooperative, based in Denton, Md. “Most of our problems were caused by trees and limbs. We had some downed and broken poles, and some flooding hindered accessibility.”
The scope of the outages and widespread damage prompted many co-ops to seek patience from consumer-members.