YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Blue Ridge Mountain EMC (BRMEMC) experienced widespread outages resulting from severe weather that rolled through our service territory in the late afternoon hours of Friday, March 3. At the peak of the event, BRMEMC had 121 outages affecting approximately 26,165 member-customers. Power restoration efforts began as soon as it was safe for crews to assess the damage and begin work, which was fairly immediately after the storm damage occurred.
High winds from the storm caused the majority of the outages. Trees were blown over that snapped lines and broke 18 poles throughout BRMEMC’s system. Two large outages in Towns County, and the Hanging Dog and Unaka areas of Cherokee County, North Carolina affected the majority of members.
In Young Harris, blown-over trees contacted BRMEMC’s transmission line between Young Harris, Georgia and Hayesville, North Carolina, causing power loss to three different substations. This outage affected 12,456 members for about one hour and thirty minutes.
The outage in the Hanging Dog and Unaka area was also caused by trees blown over that tore down a three-phase line. This outage affected 2,057 members for about seven hours and fifteen minutes.
The additional outages were the result of broken power poles and trees or debris on lines.
By late afternoon on Saturday, March 4 all power outages from the storm were restored.
“It is often difficult for members to understand how a storm of relatively short duration can cause so much physical damage to the BRMEMC electric and fiber system. I want to remind the membership that our service territory is roughly the size of Rhode Island with over 6,300 miles of electric distribution lines. Our system is spread across mountainous terrain covered in forests and trees. High winds can cause a lot of damage because of this,” said General Manager Allan Glidewell.
Glidewell went on to say, “I cannot express my gratitude enough to the employees of BRMEMC for their hard work and perseverance during this significant outage event. I’m grateful to share that all crews and personnel performed safely and went home to their families at the end of the day. I also want to thank the membership for their support and patience as we restored power.”
BRMEMC’s first step was to restore power to the greatest number of people possible, which meant that we started at the transmission lines and substations and worked our way down main line three-phase circuits, paying particular attention to feeds with critical infrastructure attached, such as hospitals, county facilities and the like. BRMEMC then worked to repair taps leading off the mainline circuits, and finally service lines to individual homes. Broken power poles took several hours to repair and were the most time consuming. For more on Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, visit brmemc.com or follow BRMEMC on social media.
About Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) is a member-owned electric cooperative headquartered in Young Harris, Georgia, serving over 55,000 member-customers in Cherokee and Clay Counties in Western North Carolina, and Towns, Union and Fannin Counties in Northeast Georgia. Organized locally in 1937, BRMEMC has invested well over $300 million in physical infrastructure in its mission to provide reliable electric and broadband services to its members where those services would not otherwise have been available.