Press Releases

Default text size Larger text size Even larger text size   print
RSS feed
< Back to Main

WAPA PREPARED FOR HURRICANE SEASON 2011

(Tuesday, May 31, 2011)

         The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority will maintain a state of readiness during hurricane season 2011. According to Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr., utility personnel are prepared to immediately and safely respond to electrical or water service issues that may arise. Hodge said that all WAPA employees are designated “essential” during hurricane season and will report to work on emergency schedules after the storm. If needed, recovery support from off-island utility crews will be available.

         Hodge said that the public’s safety after a storm is important to the utility. Residents should stay away from all fallen poles and lines, assume they are dangerous, and immediately report the problem. To protect appliances, turn off circuit breakers leaving just one on to power a small lamp as an indicator that electricity is restored. Customers should locate and mark their potable water safety valves, turn off water in the event a pipe breaks, and immediately report damage. Check that all faucets are closed to prevent water loss or flooding when service is restored.

         Customers can be energy conscious even during hurricane preparation and recovery. WAPA advises the following:

Have the weatherhead (the electric service point) on a house or building inspected by a licensed electrician to secure the connection before the storm or to make any necessary repairs after a storm. WAPA will be unable to connect a damaged weatherhead to the feeder. While cleaning up around the yard, check that outdoor bulbs are sturdy Energy Star-rated CFL or LED lights, that they are on a timer or motion sensor, and will be protected from damage by flying objects or high winds.

 Cut weak tree limbs, trim shrubs within reach, and call WAPA to clear trees from power lines in order to maintain service reliability. A well-pruned tree allows more air to pass through the tree without knocking limbs down that can obstruct passageways for service trucks. Direct floodwaters away from homes and businesses to prevent utility vehicles from getting stuck in deep water or mud and delaying recovery schedules.

As an alternative to battery operated equipment, consider purchasing solar powered flashlights and fans for comfort,  and solar radios to stay informed about repair schedules or boiling water advisories;

Net metering customers should protect their solar panels, wind turbines, and hardware according to manufacturers’ recommendations;

Never connect a portable generator directly to a household wiring system or connect a backup power system without a transfer switch that disconnects the system from WAPA’s supply. This is to protect field crews from electrocution while working on the lines;

Check that refrigerator seals are tight to prevent cool air from seeping out while the power is out and keep the doors closed; freeze gallon water jugs and  place in  refrigerator to keep main compartment cool; use crumpled newspaper, bath towels or blankets  to insulate freezers and keep foods cold.         

Gregory L. Rhymer, Chief Operating Officer, says that WAPA will maintain services as long as possible and will not turn off power during a storm unless there is potential damage to life or equipment.  The “three strike rule” will apply. If a feeder loses service, control room operators will attempt to restore the feeder three times unless conditions in the field dictate otherwise. If unsuccessful, the feeder will remain without service until the storm passes and damage assessments are completed. Crews will initially restore lines that deliver power to public services and to the most populated areas in the shortest amount of time, then go neighborhood-to-neighborhood and door-to-door, until all customers have electric and water services.

           Special “hotline” numbers will be announced, if there is a need to accommodate increased calls, however, customers can report power or water problems on St. Croix to the usual emergency numbers at 773-0150, or 773-2250 and then press 7  or on St. Thomas/St. John/Water Island, to 774-1424 or 774-3552 and then press 4. Outages can also be reported on the website. Electric feeder lists can be found at www.viwapa.vi and copies are available in WAPA’s business offices.

###