Five-year anniversary of derecho: Reminder to prepare for hurricane season

Stacey Watkins remembers how the derecho came without warning: an unexpected and devastating line of thunderstorms that swept across 10 states with the force of a hurricane—damaging homes, flooding roads, and knocking out power to her home and a million others.

dominion energy“I was without power for days,” Watkins said when she looked back five years ago to the June 2012 derecho. “But it was easier for me to wait for the lights to come back on because I had an emergency kit stocked with the basics: a battery-powered radio, lanterns, bottled water, batteries. I got in the habit of just picking up a few items here and there at the store until I had everything I needed to feel prepared.”

Because weather doesn’t always follow predictions or computer models, Dominion Energy recommends making a few important preparations now that can make life easier if a storm hits. Click here for a recommended list of supplies.

After putting your kit together, don’t forget to:

  • Check your online account or make a quick call to the automated system at (800) 222-0401 to make sure your current phone number is associated with your account so you can easily report your outage or receive updates.
  • Sign up for text alerts and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the street—it makes it easier for emergency responders and restoration crews to identify your home after a major storm.
  • Bookmark the outage map on your smartphone so you can report your outage—don’t wait for a neighbor to report it. (You can also check the status of your outage and the estimated time of restoration once it’s available.)

Watkins is not alone in preparing for the next “big one.” Over the last five years, we have been hard at work, too: improving the reliability of the grid and giving customers more real-time, accurate information about their outage online.

“Visibility of damages after impact is one of the most crucial steps in our restoration process,” said Ed Baine, senior vice president of electric distribution at Dominion Energy. “We have made several improvements in our restoration process and this year, field teams will begin using a state-of-the art storm damage reporting tool that will help identify damage faster so that customers will know sooner when their power will be restored.”

“This technology can be used immediately after a storm’s impact and we expect that we’ll be able to make quicker and better decisions about deploying those crews to the areas that need them the most, safely and efficiently,” Baine said.

Improvements in two-way outage communication have simplified staying in touch in the storm’s aftermath. Our interactive, mobile-friendly outage map, mobile outage reporting option, text alerts, and Twitter and Facebook storm updates have made it easier for customers to stay up-to-date before, during and after a storm.

To speed up restoration for customers after major storms like the derecho, we have also implemented the Strategic Underground Program, burying more than 600 miles of outage-prone power lines, with plans to bury thousands more. We have also continued to install more automated equipment so that power can be re-routed remotely during an outage and the lights come back on more quickly for customers.

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