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Update

Earlier

5:51 p.m. MONDAY, MAY 25: Storms today have presented new challenge to crews, as all eight districts are now working on outages, some old and some new from today’s thunderstorms. The total currently is 3,501 meters without power in 148 outages, after crews had worked outages down to 961 meters in 55 outages prior to [today’s] storms. Bad weather may delay restoration efforts in the already-flooded areas and new flash flooding is occurring all over. …. Report outages to 1-888-883-3379.

This just in from Pedernales Electric Cooperative spokesperson Anne Harvey:

7:16 p.m. SUNDAY, MAY 24: Following historic, catastrophic flooding along the Blanco River, Pedernales Electric crews have been working for more than 24 hours in efforts to restore power to the devastated region that has seen more than 350 homes swept away, more 1,000 residents displaced, eight people missing and at least one known fatality.

Heavy rains throughout the Texas Hill Country began on Saturday, May 23, causing flooding in PEC’s service area along the Blanco River, particularly in and around the Blanco, Wimberley and San Marcos communities. Flooding and lightning caused numerous outages, with the peak count being estimated at around 142 outages affecting 9,800 meters at around 12:30 a.m. early Sunday morning. As of 7:45 p.m. Sunday, PEC’s outage count is now down to an estimated 2,889 meters at 45 outage locations.

Of those still without power, outage restoration has largely been delayed due to inaccessible, flooded conditions — high water, damaged roads and destroyed or debris-blocked bridges — and PEC lines, poles and related equipment being washed away.

“Public safety, reliability and being there for our members have always been our top priorities,” said Robert Peterson, PEC’s Control Center and Emergency Preparedness Director. “These circumstances allow us to put our preparations and training to the test, and we will continue working until service is restored to every meter possible.”

Peterson said a combination of up to 50 PEC and contract crews have been working around the clock as part of restoration efforts. Because there have been, and may still be some areas that are inaccessible by truck because of high water or other poor conditions, repair could be slowed as crew members patrol lines on foot or possibly by boat.

The cooperative has also utilized contracted helicopter services to assess the damage from above. “We’re willing to do whatever we can to assess the situation and take corresponding action to restore service, even if it means trying new tactics,” Peterson said. “Drastic circumstances call for extraordinary measures. This is a historic and devastating event for the communities we serve.”

The cooperative is estimating power will be restored to 866 of the 877 meters in the Blanco area at around 8 p.m. Crews have gained access to the Blanco River crossings on FM 165 and have found three spans of line down, one being the crossing. There is still one phase still standing, which will be used to get pulling rope established for the crossing. The cooperative has one other outage in the Blanco area effecting 11 meters n the FM 473/Truffle Ln. area; however, high water is still a factor and will delay restoration for an undetermined amount of time.

In the Wimberley area, the areas most in doubt to restore service are due to electric distribution facilities being washed away or severely damaged. Service to some homes cannot be restored because the homes are damaged or swept away. The cooperative’s three-phase line crossing the Blanco River to Flight Acres has been completely washed away, which will likely take the longest of all the damaged lines to repair. 340 members remain without power and most likely will remain off over night and indefinitely until crews can get the line rebuilt and replaced. Because of the extensive repair and rebuilding efforts, no estimated time for power restoration is available. Members in this area need to make alternate arrangements if possible due to the extensive and indefinite time it will take to rebuild the facilities to provide service.

Also in Wimberley, there are an additional 500-600 meters in the South River subdivision to which PEC is still working to restore power.

In the San Marcos area, PEC’s three-phase line crossing the Blanco River is down, and there are poles leaning severely that serve four apartment complexes (Courts of River Bend, Country Oaks, River Oaks Villa and Villagio Apartments) with 976 meters served by PEC that are still without power. Crews are working to find a solution to straighten poles and replace the line, but the cooperative is unable to estimate a time of restoration until it can determine if the poles can be reached and the wire replaced across the river.

Crews always work with safety as their top priority. “We’re taking every precaution to maintain a safe environment for our members, our employees and contract crews,” Peterson said. “We’re doing our very best to restore service for our members as quickly and safely as possible.” PEC support staff has also been working around the clock to provide phone support, dispatching, social media updates and to provide information to media.

Pedernales Electric members who call the cooperative’s toll-free power outage line at 1-888-883-3379 will reach an automated call answering system. This system allows PEC to quickly and effectively dispatch crews and inform members of restoration efforts. For the system to be effective, it is important that members keep their telephone numbers updated with PEC. Members should not assume their outage is in the cooperative’s system and should report their outages to PEC using the 1-888-883-3379 number.

Members in certain areas that are extremely difficult to access and/or that have major damage to PEC equipment may receive an automated outbound call from the cooperative.

Members also can monitor www.pec.coop/outages for automated outage information, or they can follow PEC on social media for updates as information becomes available, at facebook.com/PedernalesCoop and twitter.com/PedernalesCoop.

COVER: A downed utility pole sits near floodwaters in the Wimberley area. PEDERNALES ELECTRIC PHOTO

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