July monsoon storm knocked down most SRP power poles in 20+ years
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Salt River Project employees had their work cut out for them during Arizona’s wild monsoon season this year. SRP director of Distribution Maintenance, Bret Marchese, said one storm knocked down more power poles than any other one in over 20 years. The storm happened on July 17, leaving thousands without power in several Pinal County cities. It resulted in the Pinal County Board of Supervisors declaring a state of emergency.
“We lost 173 distribution poles and 23 transmission poles in that one night throughout our service territory. Our dedicated line crews and response teams worked long, hard hours after the storms and did an outstanding job swiftly getting all of our customers back in power without an incident or accident. Their unique training and preparation always make a difference,” said Marchese. He added during a normal monsoon, the company replaces 30 to 40 distribution poles. However, during a busy monsoon season, it jumps up to 120 poles replaced.
Thousands of Eloy and Arizona City residents were left scrambling to find cool shade as power was knocked out for several days. Some people opted to stay outside or in emergency shelters, like gyms in neighboring cities. Others chose their cars, saying it was cooler than inside their homes. Volunteers helped pass out dry ice to homeowners to try and save some food from spoiling.
The task was not easy for workers. During that week, crews replaced as many poles as they do in a typical summer, according to Robert Horn, SRP Field Maintenance manager. Crews were working around the clock to get electricity back up for Arizonans.
Just last week, thousands of SRP customers were left without power after a dust storm slammed the Phoenix area. At the height of the storm, over 80,000 people reported outages for SRP and APS. Downed power lines sparked roughly seven fires around the Phoenix area. Construction barriers and trees were knocked over in downtown Phoenix, while some West Valley homes had roofs ripped off.
In total, SRP’s Distribution Operation Center declared six Level 1 storms from June until the first week of October. A Level 1 storm means “all hands on deck” because a storm could wreak havoc in such a short time.
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