Teammates across the Southern Company system worked around the clock in the days following Hurricane Zeta to safely restore power to more than 1.5 million customers, with responders and customers alike continuing to reflect Thursday on the powerful Category 2 storm and a record storm season.
More than 10,600 responders – including those from Southern Company and from 24 states and Canada – worked together to get the lights back on in communities across the system’s electric service territory as soon as conditions were safe.
Georgia Power and Mississippi Power by Monday had restored electric service to customers who could safely receive it. Alabama Power, whose state was especially hard hit by the storm’s damage, reached the milestone Wednesday. Zeta disrupted power for more than 600,000 customers of Alabama Power, 822,000 of Georgia Power and 94,000 who receive electricity from Mississippi Power.
In Georgia, responders faced the additional challenge of repairing damage from an incoming cold front that coincided with Zeta and brought high winds that impacted electric service for 145,000 customers.
Zeta, the latest severe storm in this year’s record-breaking hurricane season, made landfall Oct. 28 in southeastern Louisiana and marched across the Southeast, delivering heavy rain, tropical-storm-force winds and downed trees, leaving communities in its path without power.
Throughout the multiday restoration, teamwork and a commitment to Safety First were paramount. The safe response included measures to protect against the coronavirus.
Close collaboration – across the system, with others in the industry and at state and local agencies – is a hallmark of Southern Company’s commitment to the communities we are privileged to serve.
The restoration saw responders replace some 2,700 poles, around 11,000 spans of wire and more than 1,670 transformers on the distribution system. Damage also occurred on the transmission system where over 30 structures and 100 spans of wire were replaced. Bulk Power Operations and the Power Delivery Control Centers in coordination with Fleet Operations maintained the reliability of the system, while teammates had made preparations at generating facilities in advance of the storm.
Southern Linc restored outages at more than two dozen sites and deployed 18 mobile assets in Alabama to ensure communications capabilities. The Supply Chain Management team established more than a dozen material staging sites and made scores of shipments from the system’s material distribution centers.
With Zeta striking just days ahead of Election Day, Southern Company’s operating companies worked closely with state and local officials and other electricity providers to ensure all polling places had power prior to Tuesday’s election.
Reliable and resilient technology infrastructure ensured storm-critical applications stayed online throughout restoration. With customer-service calls and website visits surging to record levels, the Technology Organization made sure customers were able to report or check the status of outages, and quickly resolved any intermittent delays in reaching customer service.
Customers show appreciation
Throughout the response, customers have expressed sincere gratitude to the women and men who worked hard to restore power. Crews have received handwritten notes, including those from children, and well-wishes delivered via social media.
An Alabama Power customer in Bibb County slipped a note into the overnight drop box that read: “God bless all the Alabama Power employees who worked so hard to restore power to Bibb. It is appreciated!!”
“Our crews faced multiple challenges during this difficult restoration, but we know it also wasn’t easy for many of our customers,” said Scott Moore, Alabama Power senior vice president of Power Delivery. “We appreciate our customers’ patience throughout this multiday restoration effort.”
A Georgia Power customer shared on social media: "Thankful for our Georgia Power lineman and crews working to restore everyone's power. They leave their families for days to take care of folks they do not know. God Bless each of you and take you home safe to your families. Thank you!!!"
“After we finished a job, a young boy brought our crew a Halloween-themed thank-you note,” said Mississippi Power’s Bay Springs Local Manager Aaron Myers. “It absolutely made our day.”
“We appreciate our customers hanging tough with us,” Mississippi Power Vice President of Customer Service and Operations Fran Forehand said. “The outpouring of support, from honking horns and donated meals, to the tremendous response on social media, lifted our team’s spirits and helped them power through for our customers.”