Responding to Hurricane Florence - Carolina Country
November 2018

Dear Members, 

In last month’s AWARE column, I noted the higher than average number of thunderstorms our area experienced this past summer that brought lightning, gusty winds and heavy rain resulting in higher than normal power outages. Well, the now relocated and trusty rain gauge was filled to the brim and running over during the monsoon-like, multiday rain associated with the remnants of Hurricane Florence.

The Randolph EMC service area and our members were spared from the more extensive damage our friends to the east and south experienced but there were impacts here that are still being felt today.

Florence Randolph 2Our storm planning began the previous week as Florence gained strength but with as uncertain a track for a hurricane that I can remember. Even four days from impact, the National Hurricane Center forecasted Florence to hit the North Carolina/South Carolina coast as a Category 4 with the center tracking to the northwest through the southern and central portions of our service area. One prediction placed the centerline midway between Asheboro and Ramseur, which would have placed the majority of the REMC service area within the vicinity of hurricane force winds. Fortunately, our area was spared from a direct hit and the devastation that would have resulted.

Randolph EMC maintains a detailed storm response plan that is activated when a major weather event is predicted to impact our system. This plan was activated several days before Florence made landfall and your employee team immediately began working through the numerous details required for an efficient and effective storm response.

Even though the experts were having difficulty predicting Florence’s track, we believed that our area would experience impacts from the storm and planned accordingly. Most additional line and tree crews arrived on our system prior to the storm’s arrival and any additional material inventory we needed was ordered in advance. 

Florence was a big storm with a width measuring approximately 400 miles. Around daybreak on Thursday, September 13th, the first cloud bands were visible on the horizon. That evening brought our first storm-related outage but with the increased wind and rain on Friday, September 14th, the number of members out of power continued to grow. I have compared Florence to a distant relative coming to visit—there’s excitement when they get there, but it doesn’t take long for them to overstay their welcome. Florence was the storm that didn’t want to leave! 

Florence Randolph 3In my 34-year career, I have never experienced rain to the duration or intensity of Florence. The result was flooding to the level not seen in my lifetime. Measurements of up to 15-plus inches of rain came in from parts of our service area. Deep River almost crested the bridge at High Falls in Moore County. Many roads were washed out and standing water meant crews detouring in order to get to the outages.

The first outage came in on Thursday night, September 13th, at 7:30 p.m. and the last member’s power was restored on Monday night, September 18th, at 7:49 p.m. System-wide, 14,742 members, representing 46 percent of our members, experienced an outage. The southern areas of the system were hit harder. In Moore County, 60 percent of our members were without power. Montgomery County was our hardest hit county with 78 percent of members out of power.

Randolph EMC employees, field personnel and office staff worked hard prior to Florence’s arrival and around the clock until power was completely restored. In addition to our normal team of cooperative and contract crews, we called in extra line and tree crews from Pike Electric and Townsend Tree Service. They traveled from Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia to assist us. 

So many times, it has been Randolph EMC sending crews to help restore power to others in need. We are grateful for those that left their homes and families and traveled here to assist us.

I would also like to extend a special thanks to your team of employees and on-system contract crews who worked so faithfully. Whatever needed to be done, they did it and many times, it was not easy. We are fortunate to have a competent and dedicated group and I am proud to be associated with them.

It takes an enormous effort from every individual to make the storm response puzzle fit together correctly. These crews had to be fed and a place to sleep secured. Supplies have to be on hand to replace the damaged materials. The dispatchers in the storm center had to keep track of every team member in the field and direct them to the appropriate location. The communications team works hard to keep you updated through press releases to the media, our website, Facebook and Twitter. The management team plays a critical leadership role in directing the overall storm response. 

A very important component of our storm plan that many times goes unnoticed are the office personnel who answer the phones. Many of you have sent in thanks to the Randolph EMC team for the great job restoring power. I have also had many comments thanking us because the member was able to speak to a “live person.” Our phone bank was manned every hour during the storm, 24 hours a day. Sometimes the lines were overloaded and the caller was flipped over to the computerized outage system, but that was because every other available line was being used to talk to another member.

I also want to thank our members for their patience and understanding and for the many acts of generosity shown during very difficult conditions. Many of our members offered food, coffee, drinks and assistance to the crews working in the field. Whoever delivered those barbeque sandwiches and the gentleman who brought the coffee to the crew working in the Antioch community of Chatham County, I can speak from experience, it was really good. The storm response team in the field shared many stories of acts of kindness shown to them. 

We have received so many wonderful comments and notes of appreciation from our members and friends across the community. Many of these messages came through social media. If you haven’t had a chance to check us out on Facebook, I encourage you to “like” our page. Having access to information and updates in a timely manner with instant feedback made it easy to communicate with our members during this major weather event. 

On behalf of your Board of Directors and management team, we are so thankful for your support. I count you as an important member of our storm response team and am thankful for all you do to assist us. Together, we weathered the storm. I am humbled to work for member-owners like you. 

Cooperatively Yours,

Dale signature

Dale F. Lambert Chief Executive Officer

Keeping the Lights On

In the event of an outage, Randolph EMC is committed to restoring power quickly and safely. If you experience a power outage at your home or business, you can track restorations using our online outage map.

See outage map

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