Mitigating for Mass Power Outages

What we’re talking about

In recent weeks, several major disasters have crippled the power grid infrastructure in several states. Tropical Storm Isaias, the Iowa derecho, and Hurricane Laura demonstrate how disasters can severely impact power systems and prolong the recovery period. In this episode of Disaster Recovery Roundtable, we’ll visit Des Moines where a cluster of severe storms devastated Iowa and several neighboring states with hurricane force winds. Our guests include the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service and Iowa’s State Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. We’ll also hear from Georgia Power, and Tidal Basin’s Vice President of Preparedness, Resilience, and Emergency Management on preparing and mitigating for mass power outages.

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This summer’s big story has been massive power outages caused by major disasters across the U.S. Tropical storm Isaias left millions in the dark in the northeast in late July. 60 to 70 mile per hour winds battered several states, blowing transformers and bringing power lines down. In late August, an unusually strong cluster of severe storms produced winds over 100 miles per hour, knocking out power for millions and severely crippling transmission towers, power poles and other infrastructure.

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This surge is unsurvivable. In late August, yet another disaster, this time a major category 4 hurricane slamming into the northern gulf coast. The storm exploding transformers leaving 400,000 people without electricity at this hour.

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Again, over a million without power and the power grid system severely damaged. In this episode of Disaster Recovery Roundtable, we’ll discuss mitigating for mass power outages. Our guests include the National Weather Service with more details on that historic deratio in Iowa.

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Recommendations from Iowa State Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for other state directors. We’ll hear from a representative from Georgia Power on how to prepare for outages and how utility companies are sharing resources in major events. And Tidal Basin’s own Stephanie Murphy on mitigating for power outages.

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This is Disaster Recovery Roundtable, a platform to explore, engage and educate the emergency management community. Our topics are timely and relevant, intended to promote the exchange of ideas and best practices. Now, here’s your host, Greg Badgett.

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And thank you, Steve Henderson. Yes, power outages have caused big problems across the U.S. in recent weeks. From tropical storms to hurricanes, a deratio in the midwest and even rolling blackouts in the west due to wildfires.

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Hazards have been wrecking havoc on power grids across the United States. Our guests in this episode will share some insights from those impacts and also help us prepare and mitigate for mass power outages. We’ll first head up to Iowa, where a severe cluster of thunderstorms blew across the Hawkeye State, knocking everything down in its path from grain silos to transformers.

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Eyewitnesses described it as an inland hurricane. The National Weather Service office in Des Moines was right in the middle of those storms. And Michael Fowle is the science and operations officer for that office.

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Michael, welcome to Disaster Recovery Roundtable. Well, thank you. It’s great to be on.

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Let’s talk before we talk about that particular event. Let’s talk about deratios overall. Kind of give us an explanation.

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What is a deratio? How do they form? Where do they come from? Sure. So, yeah, the first thing is a deratio is not actually a new term. It may be a new term for some, but the term has actually been around since the late 1880s, believe it or not.

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And basically, the definition of a deratio is a widespread, severe windstorm that occurs. And again, it can be anywhere across the country. But there’s also some pretty strict criteria that’s involved with that as well.

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And the main ones are it has to have a more or less a continuous damage path greater than 250 miles. And in our case, we easily exceeded that. And in that damage path, there has to be more or less a continuous area of winds greater than 50 knots or 58 miles per hour.

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And there has to be some embedded winds greater than 75 miles per hour, again, within that 250-mile path. And again, in this event, we far exceeded both of those. The path of this deratio, I think at last estimate, was somewhere around 750 miles long.

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And as you mentioned, some of the peak winds measured gusts were in excess of 100 miles per hour. And based on some of the damage, we’re thinking winds over 120 to possibly as high as 140 miles per hour. So obviously, you know, an extreme event, even as far as deratios go.

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How often does Iowa experience one of these? So, yeah, a deratio is actually not maybe as uncommon as people think. On average, the state of Iowa, as an example, would see an event that meets that deratio criteria about once every other year. So once every two years.

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Now, again, that could be any portion of the state. It could be a small section. It could be the full extent.

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So, again, about every other year. But an event that’s as severe or as high intensity as this event is a much more rare occurrence. You know, this is one of those that’s going to be in the top, you know, three top five in the history of Iowa.

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So, yeah, this was definitely on the upper echelon of deratio events for sure. Was this particular outbreak or event forecasted? Do you get a warning? I know you know when you’re going to get a cluster of storms come through your warning area, but did you know it was going to be this bad? So, yeah, the lead up into this was one of the more challenging or actually, as a meteorologist, one of the more frustrating aspects. You know, a couple of days ahead of time, we had some indications of at least a low potential for severe weather.

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But, you know, two, three days ahead of time, this was not in the forecast, something this extreme. Really, it was not until, being honest, until Monday evening was really one of the first model runs. And that’s the HER model, one of the many models that we use, the high resolution rapid refresh, that really started to show something as an organized windstorm developing.

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But really, that was kind of a needle in a haystack. That was just really the only model that had indicated that. So, really, it wasn’t until early Monday morning that we really kind of saw the whites of its eyes.

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And we looked at where the radar returns were coming in across South Dakota and Nebraska. And we looked at the environment downstream from there. And it’s kind of the uh-oh realization that this could become really bad.

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So, unfortunately, you know, to give people a real long lead in, it was not great. Now, the warning services, once the storms got going, I think that was one of the successes. You know, we had warnings well in advance of these storms.

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I think the average lead time was 45 minutes. And some of our warnings had over an hour of lead time. And, again, the severe thunderstorm watch came out in plenty of time.

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But, again, just a heads up, a couple days ahead of time, it was not well forecast. Once the event, we kind of saw, again, the whites of its eyes, we really ramped up our operations and our messages as quickly as we could to show that this was going to be a high-end event. From what I heard, I think there was only one fatality from a falling tree or something to that effect.

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I think that’s almost remarkable considering what I’ve seen from all the damage across not only Iowa, but all the other states that were involved as well. Yeah, I think in the state of Iowa, unfortunately, we’re up to three fatalities from the event. And many, many injuries as well, most thankfully minor.

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But, as you mentioned, when you see the extent of the damage swath and the sort of wind speeds that occurred, it’s really a testament to the whole weather enterprise, you know, from the National Weather Service to our media partners to the emergency management community to everybody to get the message out once we knew, again, that it was really ramping up to a high-end event. So, yeah, the warnings, I think, did get to most people. Again, we’re always trying to improve and do things better.

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But you’re right, based on the damage, it could have been a lot worse. So we’re thankful that there was not more loss of life. Those photos are quite compelling.

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I’ve seen silos go like this. You know, it’s just amazing. I’ve heard people describe it as an inland hurricane for what they experienced because it wasn’t short-lived like a typical thunderstorm that might come through.

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It just went on and on like a hurricane impact. We’ve seen, obviously, so much power outage in the state of Iowa. This may go down as a record as well for the number of outages and the length of the outages because so much of the grid system has been destroyed there.

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What kind of winds are we talking about when we start to see that kind of an impact to the power grid system? Yeah, so generally what we look at, and again, I’ve been doing storm surveys for over 15 years now, and really when you start to see widespread power outages, to get, like, larger branches down, 3-inch diameter branches, you need basically 60- to 70-mile-per-hour winds, and that was over a very widespread area. You start to get above 75 miles per hour. That’s when you’re going to start to see very large branches.

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Some of the softwood trees start to go down onto poles, and then you get to the 80-, 90-, 100-mile-per-hour winds, and we had a widespread corridor of that. That’s not only where you start to see trees getting knocked on the lines, but actually power poles, wooden power poles being snapped, and we saw quite a bit of that. I mean, I don’t have an estimate of the number of power poles, but just the number of pictures that came in, widespread.

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So, again, widespread corridor of 80 miles per hour, and then there were these embedded areas over 100, and that’s going to cause havoc on the power grid without a doubt, and we saw this in basically a swath from almost to the Nebraska-South Dakota border, again, all the way through the state, right down the heart of Iowa, including two of the largest metro areas, our two largest metro areas in the state, and that’s a big recipe for a lot of bad things to occur, and that’s what happened in terms of the power grid. High population center, lots of trees, overhead power lines. That’s a recipe for, like you said, getting a record number of power outages, and, of course, that’s what happened.

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Looking forward down the road, do you think that there will be any kind of changes from the Weather Service perspective in the way that they communicate the threats of these deratios to the public? Do you think there will be any research to say, because I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of outcry, the public wanting to know more in advance that something of this magnitude is coming? Yeah, I think there’s a couple things. First of all, like you said, to try to get a little more lead time on just the overall setup. We may not be able to get the details exactly right, you know, on two days ahead of time or a day and a half ahead of time, but that’s the goal, and we can do that for some events.

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And then the other thing we really want to work on is, again, I think the weather enterprise, we’re working hard to get the message across. We really still rely upon our media partners, the emergency management community. The outdoor sirens play a role.

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I mean, this was during the middle of the day where anyone outside can rely on outdoor sirens, and that’s something where a lot of communities now are sounding the sirens for these sort of high-end wind events, and I really think that saved lives in this case. The other thing we really need to work on is, I think, and this is something that’s been in the works for some time, are the wireless emergency alerts on your phone. We do these for tornadoes.

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We do these for flash flood warnings. But right now we don’t do those for severe thunderstorm warnings. There are plans in the works to do that, and I really think, you know, we know how it is.

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People nowadays, right, we live on our phones, so for better or for worse, we live on our phones, and to get that information out by your cell phone is really a critical piece that is coming, and hopefully this will just keep that momentum going forward that, hey, we need to get this information to people. Wherever they are and the cell phone is maybe not the golden ticket, but it’s definitely going to help get that message across for these high-end wind events. All right.

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Well, thank you very much, Michael Fowle, with the National Weather Service office there in Des Moines. Stay with us. When we come back, we’re going to be joined by State Director of Iowa’s Homeland Security Emergency Management Division, Joyce Flynn.

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You’re listening to Disaster Recovery Roundtable, available on your favorite podcast provider and on our website at And now, back to your host, Greg Padgett. And welcome back. We’ve been discussing how to mitigate against major power outages, and our first guest was from the National Weather Service office in Des Moines, Iowa.

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He shared why the Iowa derecho was difficult to forecast and so destructive. As we mentioned, the derecho devastated a large area of central Iowa, and the State Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has been spearheading the response to this event. We’re now joined by the director of that agency, Joyce Flynn.

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Welcome, Director Flynn. Thank you. Glad to be here.

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How does this compare to other disasters that you’ve had in the past there in Iowa? Well, we always say if you’ve seen one disaster, you’ve seen one disaster, so I hesitate to make comparisons. I can say that this is the most power outage we’ve had in a large part of the state that has gone on as long as it has. Significant ag damage, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

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So some very significant impacts there. Long-term power outages to large metropolitan areas, very significant impacts. What is the reason for the power outages taking so long to get back on? It was just because of the magnitude of how many were involved with this particular event and the size and scope of the disaster itself? Exactly.

The winds and we didn’t have power poles down. They were snapped and tangled. And we’ve had crews in from Canada all over the country through mutual aid.

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And I believe at one point they said we had 1,700 crews in here working on power restoration in Iowa. So it’s been an all hands on deck trying to get power restored. Iowans know about severe weather.

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They probably know how to prepare for a tornado better than many other parts of the country. How can you prepare for a duratio like this? You know, we had a lot of discussion about that because we do think Iowans are prepared, whether it’s a winter storm, a tornado, what it might be. But I think what threw people this time is just the length of time.

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I myself had no power for three days. So, you know, I’m throwing out all the food in my refrigerator. And for me, OK.

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But there are a lot of folks that throwing out all the food in your refrigerator is a significant financial strain. So I think it’s just the length of time that this has gone on that even people who were prepared were not prepared for this length of an outage. You talk about, you know, not being able to throw out the food and not being an impact, especially this year.

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It’s COVID-19. There are a lot of folks who might be out of work. You know, things are not the best for the economy.

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Is that having an extra impact to just recovering from this disaster as well? Yeah, it definitely has. I know everywhere I went with the governor when we were touring the areas, everyone is wearing masks. Everyone is trying to be careful.

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Here in the State Emergency Operations Center, all of our partners who are here are wearing masks. We’re taking temperatures. You know, all of those protective measures that we’ve learned about through COVID, trying to do those in the midst of a disaster can be challenging, but we’re getting it done.

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It may be a little early for an after-action report, but lessons learned for other state directors out there, your fellow state directors trying to prepare or respond to an event this magnitude, this size. What are your recommendations? I think the first one I would say is perhaps we don’t place enough emphasis in our preparedness training on long-term power outages. We look at preparing for three days, and three days in this case was we needed two and a half times that much preparation.

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So I think it’s looking at providing guidance for longer-term power outages, making sure that you have batteries, candles, whatever it might be. Just those little things that we don’t think of, and making sure that people are looking at this storm as kind of the baseline. And if I could prepare for a storm like this, I should be prepared for about anything.

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Really good points there. We thank you so much, Director Joyce Flynn, with the Iowa Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. We wish you guys well on your road to recovery.

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We appreciate it. Thank you very much. Now stay with us.

When we come back, we’ll be joined by Tidal Basin’s VP of Preparedness, Resilience, and Emergency Management, Stephanie Murphy. For this and other episodes of Disaster Recovery Roundtable, visit forward slash education. Now, back to this episode of Disaster Recovery Roundtable.

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In this episode, we’ve been sharing how major power outages, like what we’ve seen recently in the Northeast after Tropical Storm Isaias, and that big major derecho up in Iowa, have really caused major and crippling power outages for communities. We’re joined now by Tidal Basin Vice President for Preparedness, Resilience, and Emergency Management, Stephanie Murphy. Welcome, Stephanie.

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Thank you. Happy to be here. When we talk about power outages, what can emergency managers, even businesses and individuals all do to help reduce those impacts of a long-term power outage? Well, as a planner myself, they can plan, plan, plan more, and then plan again to plan.

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If I haven’t said plan enough, I’m going to keep saying that. But that really goes along with preparing for an emergency. And the three things that I think are most important when you are looking at preparing for and planning for an outage is to keep you, your family, your workers, your coworkers, your colleagues safe.

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The second thing is to keep them comfortable. And the third thing is to build in resilience and resiliency into your planning. And what that really means is stay safe, right? Make sure that you don’t put anyone in danger when you plan for an outage.

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If you can’t see, make sure you have lights, whether it’s emergency lighting, whether it’s candles or flashlights or other types of illumination. You want to be comfortable. So you want to make sure that if you are stuck in a location, you have restroom facilities, that those facilities can flush, that you might have food if you can’t leave a certain area, or if you do end up having to leave, that you have comfortable things with you.

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And you want to build in resilience or resiliency into what you’re planning for by saying, how do you make sure it doesn’t happen to you again in the future? Or if you know you’re going to have an outage during a particular natural disaster, make sure you have cash on hand, your tank is filled with enough fuel, that you have all the things you could possibly need so that when you do either have to stay and shelter in place, you have to evacuate, and you have to move on to a new location. You’re able to function and do things better when you get there. What considerations from a mitigation for power outages perspective do power utilities need to consider when they’re actually putting their plans together? Because they’re the ones that control the power, or have to obviously have a plan to help restore all these outages in a particular region.

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Absolutely. I think when we talk about mitigation, a lot of people think about the hardening or the infrastructure that they can build or reinforce. And that’s absolutely a part of it.

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There’s a lot of people who talk about microgrids and looking at areas that they can be self-sustaining for a period of time, understanding the power company or the utility might have a priority on who they restore, such as those who offer life safety types of services, public safety, healthcare, hospitals, other things like that. Could be water and sewage treatment facilities, government types of things. But something that I think that we can all do as a community, not only as a utility providers, but emergency managers at the local, the regional, and the state level, they can all come together and talk and actually have a conversation with those utility providers.

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And not just talk about them, about what they think they’ll be doing, about what the standard is and how long those outages are going to be, but actually bring them to the table so they can both understand what those needs are. They can understand what priorities the utility provider will have when restoring service. And so to mitigate a lot of the issues that could occur because you’re going to have a power outage, because you might not understand when you’re going to be restored, can be done by simply coming to the table and talking.

(20:59 – 21:19)

We spoke earlier in this episode with the Director of Homeland Security Emergency Management from Iowa. And she said that very thing, that we as emergency managers don’t do enough of exercises related to mass power outages because we’re always focused on the disaster itself. And that power outage piece sometimes gets left behind.

(21:19 – 21:40)

No, I think it’s very true. You know, I was an emergency manager for a very, very long time prior to coming onto the private side and working with a multitude of clients. But one of the things when I was the emergency manager at the Airports Authority in Washington, D.C., we experienced power outages and utility outages at the airport for lots of reasons.

(21:40 – 21:57)

I know other airports around the country have experienced this. And it may not just be because of the weather event. One of the things that I had to do as an airport was find out who my contact was at the local utility provider and get in a room with them so we knew who we were.

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So we had a phone number. Who was I to call if there was going to be an emergency? Because when it really comes down to it, those utility providers are doing everything they can. And they have the linemen and women out on the roads during very dangerous conditions trying to restore whatever it might be.

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Or it might be a computer-related type of glitch. It could be a cascading effect from something else that we don’t know of. And having those conversations ahead of time really will mitigate so many issues that come from simply not, again, here’s the word, planning.

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When we have that unexpected happen to us and we haven’t planned for it, it puts us into upheaval. And during the incident is not the time to be planning for it. However, you brought up a really good point that even after that, you want to reassess or start planning so that you can help, again, here’s the word again, mitigate those issues from happening again in the future and build up that resiliency.

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That’s that third thing, right, when you plan for these things. You want to make sure everyone is safe. You want to make sure everyone is comfortable.

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And you want to build in resilience or resiliency into those plans. And you can only do that by looking back at what that experience was for that issue that happened, whether it’s a fire, right, it could be a fire causing a cascading effect. I know where I live, we’ve had construction going on.

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And you can have people cutting wires or you can have a traffic accident, you know, that brings down a pole, right. So you have a lot of different things and it doesn’t have to just be a natural disaster that you can either see coming, if it’s an earthquake, if it’s a derecho, if it’s a tornado. It doesn’t have to be something as grand.

(23:41 – 23:59)

It can be something so simple and unexpected. But if you have that thought about where are my flashlights, is my car filled with fuel, try to never let it go below three quarters. I know that’s hard, but try to never let it because that will get you out in distance, hopefully away from the power outage.

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Have cash on hand for you. Have some water and food to get you through a day. And that way if you have to go somewhere else so that your kids can still continue to learn.

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If you can get to a family member, if you can get to a hotel, you’re not going to be able to get cash. You might not be able to go get gas, right. These are all things that are contingent upon electricity and those utilities that if the area is shut down, if you don’t plan for being able to get yourself away from it, if you need to, then you’re going to have a very difficult time.

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So not just thinking through those big events such as a hurricane or a fire or even cyber and terrorism types of events that could cause these issues nationally, but also regionally and locally. Now from a title-based perspective, you’ve done a lot of work with clients around the country and preparing for all kinds of disasters and events. In relation to power outages, what are some of the projects you’ve worked on and those clients and kind of what was the scope of that particular project? Yeah, so last year we worked with Southern California Edison.

(25:04 – 25:23)

We were fortunate enough that they brought us in for a period of time to assist them with their executive level exercise as well as a roundtable. And we supported evaluating their emergency operations center. And we did that while they were preparing for their grid X exercise.

(25:23 – 25:53)

This is a national level exercise that the whole country and power providers and the federal government undertake to plan for national grid outages. And so we were there to support Southern California Edison in some of their development of the exercise design of it and then help deliver it. And then we provided evaluation and some coaching a little bit to help refine certain activities that they have.

(25:54 – 26:12)

A lot of clients really like to bring us in, and in consultant, but really with title-based and because of the experts we have. We’re emergency management practitioners at the core, which is, I think, very different than a lot of other companies. Most of us have been emergency managers for several decades prior to coming over.

(26:13 – 26:25)

So they bring us in to help them with coaching. They bring us in to help bring other ideas that we have and other experiences. So that was something that was very specific to the Southern California region and a Southern California client.

(26:26 – 26:54)

However, it was to help support them at a regional and national level with an exercise. And so that’s something very exciting that we get to do as a company and as a team to help clients at multiple levels, especially if they’re planning for exercises or if they’re looking at conducting trainings. How do they interface and integrate with the larger community at all levels of government? As always, great information, Stephanie.

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That’s Title Basin’s Vice President for Preparedness, Resilience and Emergency Management, Stephanie Murphy. Stay with us. We’re not done yet.

(27:01 – 27:22)

We’re going to head down to Georgia to hear how power utilities are working together to support each other when the lights go out. We’ll be right back. You’re listening to Disaster Recovery Roundtable, available on your favorite podcast provider and on our website at And now, back to your host, Greg Paget.

(27:22 – 27:42)

Thank you, Steve Henderson, and welcome back as we continue discussing how to prepare, respond and mitigate for major power outages. Now, one utility that has dealt with significant outages is Georgia Power, part of the Southern Company, one of the largest power suppliers in the United States. We’re joined now by Georgia Power’s Allison Gregory.

(27:42 – 28:01)

Allison, we saw a major blow to the power grid system recently down in Louisiana with Hurricane Laura. How does Georgia Power prepare for a storm like that? We prepare for this year round. Our storm center is constantly monitoring potential severe weather, any kind of storms out in the Gulf or in the Atlantic, and our crews prepare for this year round.

(28:01 – 28:15)

So, if a storm does come, it is coming, we’re preparing, we’re staging early, and we’re ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible when the storm has passed. In 2017, we experienced Hurricane Irma. It really affected most people across the state of Georgia.

(28:15 – 28:25)

We actually had almost 1 million customers without power at its peak, and we were able to get all those customers back on within a week. So, we were very grateful to be able to do that. We had crews stationed across the state.

(28:26 – 28:52)

We had other utilities come in and help us out, and we were able to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. And then in 2018, we experienced Hurricane Michael, which really affected our customers in the southern part of the state. So, it sounds like for Georgia Power as well as these other companies, these other utilities up in the northeast and the midwest, that really weather is your biggest culprit when it comes to potentially losing a lot of customers without power for some time.

(28:52 – 29:00)

Absolutely. Weather is our number one factor when it comes to losing service. For us, it is hurricanes and thunderstorms.

(29:00 – 29:15)

Up in the northeast, it’s most likely snowstorms and winter weather, which we do experience here occasionally. But for us, it’s really hurricane season every year, and we’re prepared for that. We’re prepared, even during COVID-19, to respond for some of us remotely, for others out in the field.

(29:15 – 29:30)

And they’re going to be following those safety guidelines to make sure we get your power back on. Now, it’s not only customers like the single-family homeowner or the families that get impacted, but also businesses. The private sector can be crippled when power is out for an extended period of time.

(29:30 – 29:50)

What do you do or what kind of resources do you share to help organizations, companies mitigate against long-term power outages? Well, we are constantly communicating year-round with our customers how they can stay safe before, during, and after a storm. And that’s not only our residential customers. That’s our business customers, too.

(29:50 – 30:13)

So that means making sure you’re always watching the weather forecast, especially at this time of year. The weather can go from sunny to storming in minutes. We’re telling people to make sure, if you have any big electric items in your home and a big storm is coming, we ask you to go ahead and unplug those.

It’s going to keep you safe. And have an emergency kit ready for yourself and your family members. We ask everyone to charge up those devices, because during the storm, you’re going to want them.

(30:14 – 30:35)

We encourage all of our customers, business and residential, to sign up for outage alerts, which are free text messages that the company sends out when there’s an outage, kind of tells you what’s going on and how long we expect your outage to last and when you should be back on. And then once the storm passes, we ask that customers just don’t touch anything. If you see any downed lines or wires or poles in your area, don’t touch them.

(30:35 – 30:46)

We don’t want you getting hurt. Our crews are trained to take care of that, so just wait for them to arrive. If there’s an outage in your area, you can always call Georgia Power to report that, and our crews will come out and take care of that for you.

(30:46 – 31:14)

But it’s definitely a partnership with our customers and our crews. Just, you know, practice that social distancing right now, and we’ll get you back on as quickly and safely as possible. Do you guys collaborate with state emergency management, local emergency management, the weather service to kind of get a visibility and some situational awareness that, you know, things might be getting rough or there may be a forecast for a bad storm? Yeah, so our Georgia Power crews work closely with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, GEMA, to repair.

(31:15 – 31:45)

In case of anything happens, they have a great partnership, and we work closely together during storms and after as well. I understand you guys have like a big storm center or something there at Georgia Power headquarters. What’s that role? How does it work? How many people work in that system when it’s fully operational, when there’s a potential threat out there? Sure.

So with COVID-19, the majority of us that can work remotely are still working remotely right now. Before COVID-19, the storm center would be fully staffed after a hurricane came through. It hasn’t happened like that since last year.

(31:45 – 31:57)

But, you know, up to 30, 40 people can be in there at a time working. We have people in logistics that are helping get hotel rooms set up for our crews. We have people in communication, finance, the weather team.

(31:57 – 32:13)

So we have a full staff in there, and they’re in there 24-7 until the storm center closes once restoration is complete. So it is open when a big hurricane comes through. It’s not usually open when it’s just a summer storm, but our storm crews do work.

(32:13 – 32:44)

We have a staff for the storm team, and they are always working and diligently monitoring weather. As we wrap up here, let’s talk about the consumer. If there’s a major outage, let’s say power’s out for seven days or something like that, are they here that it’s going to be a long-term event? What are some things that they can do? What are some tips? What are some safety things that they need to remember when they’re having to deal with no power? Well, we really appreciate our customers, and we really recognize that when the power is out, that’s hard on them.

(32:44 – 32:52)

That’s hard on them, especially with people spending more time at home. Lots of kids are going to school virtually right now. A lot of people are working out of their homes, which makes it difficult, and we understand that.

(32:53 – 33:05)

So first, we ask for patience. Our customers are really important to us, and our crews move as quickly and safely as they can. If necessary, if we do have a large enough storm, we’ll look to our sister companies within Southern Company to come help us out.

(33:05 – 33:21)

Once they’ve restored all their customers, if they’ve been affected, and then we also have a mutual assistance network. So that means that we partner with dozens of utilities across the country, and we help each other out, and they come help us when needed. Recently, we were up in New Jersey and out in Illinois helping after their severe weather.

(33:21 – 33:39)

So we have those people to come in and those utilities to come in and help us out to get power on as quickly as we can. But that’s really why we encourage customers to sign up for those outage alerts so they know what’s going on, what’s going on with the outage, when they can expect to be back on, make sure those devices are charged. And we just remind customers just have an emergency kit.

(33:39 – 33:51)

You don’t really think about it until it’s time, but make sure you have enough food and water for your family in case there is a long outage. We saw that with Hurricane Irma that customers were out for up to a week. So just little things like that.

(33:51 – 34:34)

An emergency kit is just a simple thing to have on hand just in case something happens. You just mentioned that you guys were up in the Northeast after East Sias, and then you also went to Illinois to help with that big storm outage from that derecho. How does that work? Is it some type of mutual aid between power companies? Right.

So it’s called a mutual assistance network, and several of the utilities across the country, including Georgia Power, are a part of that. Those storm crews work with our crews and vice versa. They know each other.

They’re in communication. And when needed, when the outages are large enough, the damage is large enough, enough customers are out, we’re going to help each other out. For Georgia Power, that means we make sure all of our customers are in good hands and have been restored before we go help out another state.

(34:34 – 34:45)

And that’s going to be the same for them as well. But we were gratefully able to go out and help some folks up in the Northeast and in the Midwest recently. And they’ve helped us out before as well after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Michael.

(34:45 – 34:56)

And it’s just kind of a partnership. It’s a friendship where we help each other out when needed. All right.

Thanks so much. That’s Allison Gregory with Georgia Power, part of The Southern Company. Thanks so much.

(34:57 – 35:17)

You can learn more about Georgia Power and safety tips during power outages by visiting their website. It’s Then navigate over to their Outages and Storm Center page for the latest information on how to stay safe during a long-term outage. Some great information there for emergency managers, no matter where you live, to share with your public.

(35:18 – 35:40)

One important note we really want to stress, the emergency management industry needs to do a better job of communicating the risk of using generators after a mass power outage to the public. Fortunately, we saw this again with Hurricane Laura, fatalities related to carbon monoxide poisoning. So something that you should definitely incorporate into your messaging when you have a long-term power outage in your area.

(35:41 – 35:59)

We’d like to thank all of our guests today. Michael Fowle from the National Weather Service, Director Joyce Flynn from Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Tidal Basin’s Stephanie Murphy, and Allison Gregory with Georgia Power. Don’t forget to check out the notes section of this podcast for more information on the organizations that all of our guests today are from.

(36:00 – 36:26)

And also, make sure you share and like us as we continue to produce more content for you and for the emergency management community. You’ve been listening to Disaster Recovery Roundtable, a platform to explore, engage, and educate. For more information on this episode, visit our podcast page at You can download previous podcasts, learn more about the programs we discussed, and suggest a topic for a future episode.

(36:27 – 36:33)

You can also find us on your favorite podcast provider. This has been a Tidal Basin production. Thanks for listening.