Days of heavy rain coupled with a heavy wet snow and high winds overnight in the mountains brought down large trees across the High Country, damaging the electric system and hampering access. Linemen are using chainsaws and right-of-way crews to get to outage locations as quickly as possible.
As of 11:30 a.m., 4,000 members remain without power, with 3,400 in Ashe County where 200 different locations of the electric system have been damaged either by heavy wet snow pulling down power lines or trees falling onto electric facilities. Outages in Ashe are primarily concentrated in four areas: Piney Creek where 586 members are affected, Big and Little Laurel Roads where 200 are affected, Old NC Hwy. 16 where 200 are affected and Silas Creek Road where 175 are affected. Members are advised to take precautions for safety and warmth as full outage restoration in Ashe County may not be complete until Saturday due to extensive damage.
In Alleghany County, linemen are repairing downed lines and power poles in 48 different locations to restore power to 485 members. Watauga County crews are working to restore power to166 members. Several hundred Caldwell County members affected by the storm were restored with power last night. At the height of the storm Thursday night, 9,000 members were affected.
If members are experiencing outages and have not reported them, please call the cooperative's Power Line at 1-800-448-2383.
As a special advisement which could save time on power restoration to individual homes: if storm damage causes a meter base to be torn away from a house, the homeowner should first call an electrician. This is because the electric connection from a home to reach a meter base is part of that home and therefore is an individual homeowner's responsibility. If this area is damaged, it must first be repaired by the homeowner in order for utility workers to make full power restoration to the home. This is also a safety issue.
Seventy-five additional linemen from Union Power, Rutherford Electric, Randolph Electric and York Electric cooperatives are assisting Blue Ridge Electric. Sumter and Carter right-of-way contract crews are also assisting.
To check outage status at any time, Blue Ridge Electric provides an online outage map at www.BlueRidgeEMC.com, where news releases and safety tips can also be found. Updates are also available on the cooperative’s social media sites at: www.facebook.com/blueridgeemc and www.twitter.com/blueridgeemc.
Blue Ridge Electric serves some 74,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Avery and Alexander counties.