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October 20, 2016

Curtis Mansfield, Pacific Power Vice President of Operations

Weathering the storm

By Curtis Mansfield
Vice President, Operations

The mid-October storm that ripped through the Northwest could have been worse. Forecasters were making comparisons to the legendary Columbus Day Storm of 1962. Luckily, those predictions did not come to pass.

But we know our 740,000 customers – all of whom were at risk in the storm – heard the dire forecasts and took it seriously. From calls we received and from community contacts since, we know that people from Crescent City to Yakima, checked their outage kits and talked to family members about "what if" scenarios. In most cases, these preparations served as a very realistic drill. But ask the people in Manzanita if "what if" still sounds the same to them now as before a rare-Northwest tornado touched down in the idyllic beach community and damaged more than 100 buildings.

Pacific Power crew working to restore power

Overall, however, the storms were serious, if not catastrophic. Gusts of wind and heavy rain walloped the Pacific Northwest for three days, toppling trees and damaging transmission and distribution lines and substation equipment. On Saturday alone, when the most damaging storm traversed California, Oregon and Washington, more than 50,000 of you lost power.

Thanks to the efforts of the more than 400 Pacific Power employees and contractors, 97 percent of those customers were restored by Saturday evening. Crews worked through the evening and into the next day to assess damage and restore areas that involved more extensive repairs.

I want to commend the dedicated employees who worked so hard to get the lights back on for you. These efforts took place in challenging weather conditions over many long hours and days and were completed safely and without injury. Almost every part of the company was involved, including line crews, tree crews, logistics workers, service coordinators, dispatchers and managers. Our call centers took more than 9,000 of your calls on Saturday alone, and our regional business managers kept in close contact with community leaders throughout the weekend.

But you showed your mettle as well. You were prepared and kept your collective cools. It was great to hear understanding at the other end of the phone line. Yes, everyone wants their power back on as soon as possible. But we heard that you knew the challenges our crews had in front of them, understood that we were working hard to make repairs. So thank you for your patience and understanding.

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