Joe Wheeler Customers Face A Second Night In The Dark

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TRINITY, Ala. (WHNT) – In Lawrence County, officials with the Joe Wheeler Electric Co-Op say the weight of the snow Wednesday night caused a lot of tree limbs to break and fall across power lines. In some cases, entire trees were uprooted. It resulted in power outages for hundreds of customers all across Wheeler’s service area.

Some of those customers were still waiting for service to be restored Thursday night. We heard from a number of viewers telling us they had problems.

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, there were still roughly 1,400 Joe Wheeler customers sitting in the dark. Some of them have been without power since the storm hit and some of those may be facing yet another long, cold night without electricity.

This is an area the public usually doesn’t get a chance to see, the dispatch room at Joe Wheeler Electric Co-Operative. From here, the co-op’s entire grid can be monitored, and crews dispatched to areas where they’re needed. And since Wednesday night, they’ve been needed throughout their coverage area.

“It was scattered all throughout Morgan and Lawrence counties. There was no rhyme or reason to it, it was just all over,” according to Joe Wheeler EMC spokesperson Mandi Phillips. She says in many cases, repairs have been as simple as repairing blown fuses along the system.

As limbs fell and shorted out the lines, hundreds of fuses tripped. But in many cases, entire transformers had to be replaced, and each one of those can take several hours. Transformers typically serve only two to four homes, so it has taken all day to bring some areas back online.

Adding to the frustration has been trying to reach the co-op to report outages. Bobby Whitlock decided to report his daughter’s in person.

“But nobody can get through to report these so they have to drive over and report ’em to somebody,” Whitlock told WHNT News 19.

Phillips says a number of telephone lines were also downed making it difficult for some customers to get through. But their people are taking calls and she says repairs are being made as quickly as possible.

Three other electric companies have sent linemen to Lawrence County to help make repairs and we’re told progress is being made. But it could be later Thursday night, maybe even Friday before all of their customers have electricity.