SPOKANE, Wash. – Nov. 30, 2015: As Avista and the communities impacted by the Nov. 17 wind storm try to return to “business as usual” today, many will never forget the devastation, destruction and personal damage left behind by Mother Nature’s near-hurricane force winds.
By 3:45 a.m. Friday, Nov. 27, power was fully restored to the nearly 180,000 customers who were out of power at the height of the storm. It took almost 10 days of around-the-clock restoration efforts by up to 132 Avista, contract and mutual aid crews from six western states and Canada working 16-hour shifts on a rotating basis through Thanksgiving to restore service to everyone.
“The crews who were on the front-lines working non-stop in your neighborhoods, in your streets and in your backyards -- they are the true heroes of this historic recovery effort. It took thousands of man-hours to restore power during extremely demanding conditions. Thankfully, we were able to fully restore power without a single safety incident. We are forever grateful for their rugged determination and dedication,” said Avista Chairman, President and CEO Scott Morris.
“We are equally grateful for the incredible patience and support of our customers. We understand how difficult, stressful and frustrating it was to wait for your lights and heat to be restored, especially during cold weather and the Thanksgiving holiday. The outpouring of support and kindness you’ve shown is amazing. You’ve brought coffee and food for our crews and your encouraging comments kept our crews going strong through Thanksgiving until every last customer had power,” Morris added. “I’d also like to recognize our city and county leaders, first responders, community support agencies, and countless others who worked together to help our entire community and region recover from this crisis.”
Restoring power and communicating with customers were our priorities
Although it’s too early to estimate the total costs associated with this storm event, we can share some numbers with you. In addition to our crews, customers and communities, there are hundreds of additional support staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to organize and prioritize work, and keep the crews supplied and focused on the task at hand. At the same time, it was important to communicate to customers as information became available and respond to their questions in a timely manner throughout the storm recovery effort.
- Customer Contact Center:
- Managed a total of nearly 205,000 customer contacts. Nearly 56,000 of those contacts involved individual direct customer conversations during the 10-day restoration effort
- Approximately 74-percent of all calls were handled within one minute between Nov. 17 and Thanksgiving day.
- Distribution Dispatch:
- We created an additional new dispatch center to manage coordinating all the additional crews in the field.
- At the height of the restoration efforts, there were a total of 132 Avista, mutual aid and contract crews working 16-hour rotating shifts.
- Our total workforce consisted of at least 700 individuals working in the field, most of them were skilled line crew members.That’s more than five-times the typical workforce in Avista’s entire operations.
- External Communications:
- Social media communication with customers –
- Twitter: 1 Million Twitter accounts reached, and 12.7 Million unique Twitter impressions created.
- Facebook: 75 Facebook Posts, more than 8,100 Direct Messages with 94 percent responded to in 13 minutes or less, and a Total Reach of more than 1.5 Million.
- Outage Map total visits were nearly 837,000. Total visits to avistautilities.com were 607,000.
- Media Relations: 6 community-wide coordinated news conferences, 15 Media Alerts and 174 Media inquiries were facilitated.
- Community Support and Volunteers:
- Avista contributed more than $94,000 to fund shelters, warming centers, emergency food and services, extend school warming center days and food, and provide 1,000 meals and 45 Avista volunteers through KREM-TV’s Tom’s Turkey Drive.
- At least 50 Avista volunteers in non-critical operation positions worked with City volunteers to go door-to-door checking on vulnerable customers in neighborhoods without power.
- Avista worked with the City of Spokane, Fairchild Air Force Base and others to secure and connect emergency generators to provide temporary power to critical customers, including several assisted living homes.
Customer and community support
Countless customers and community members have voiced their appreciation. Here’s a sample.
- We just got our power back! Just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU, not only to all at Avista but to all the men and women who came from all over the country to help out! Thank you isn’t nearly enough! You all have done nothing but work as hard and fast as you possibly can while remaining safe!
- Thank you for all your hard work!!! We greatly appreciate the dedication of the men and women who are out there 24/7, leaving the homes and family to keep others warm and safe. You are the heroes of the week.
- This evening, I saw some of your crews…pounding the pavement and working hard for our community. I think all of you are doing a fine job. And it’s through those trying times, those times of adversity, where we all as people, a community -- and in Avista’s case, a community-based business/utility -- find out what we are all about and made of. All of you are really stepping it up and getting the job done. I cannot thank you and applaud all of you folks enough for working hard for your people. Kudos!
One final note, as clean-up from wind storm-related activities continue, if customers have any questions or concerns about any possible downed wire or utility debris still on their property, please call Avista’s Contact Center immediately at 1-800-227-9187 so we can ensure it is removed safely.
About Avista Utilities
Avista Utilities is involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy. We provide energy services and electricity to 369,000 customers and natural gas to 329,000 customers in a service territory that covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.6 million. Avista Utilities is an operating division of Avista Corp. (NYSE: AVA). For more information, please visit www.avistautilities.com.
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