On May 21, 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their forecast for the 2020 hurricane season. The outlook for the Atlantic predicts “a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season.” The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. NOAA also released their outlook for the Central Pacific.
Considering the current pandemic, restoration after a hurricane or severe tropical storm will be different from before. Utilities have been contemplating these changes as they get ready for the season. The Electric Subsector Coordinating Council developed a resource guide, Assessing and Mitigating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), to help assess and mitigate COVID-19. This resource guide is not specific to restoration, but the guidance may impact normal restoration practices.
In May 2020, FEMA release the COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season. This document includes checklists for Preparation, Response, and Recovery Considerations. It is an excellent resource.
Other SERC initiatives include the Reliability Risk Report, Winter Assessment Process, and the implementation of lessons learned from previous extreme cold weather events. For more information, please see the Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis webpages or click here to contact us.
SERC has gathered a few helpful ideas to aid utilities contemplating the challenges of restoration while considering worker health and safety during the pandemic. Please see the list below with items of interest. (Please keep in mind that some items may be more or less applicable to your operations based on your size and/or structure.)
- Daily temperature checks may aid in early identification of COVID-19 infection.
- COVID-19 testing may also aid if tests are available.
- Mutual aid workers and contractors also need testing for both temperature and COVID-19 (if available).
- Maintaining social distancing may increase lodging needs.
- Some states may be moving away from shelters for the public to hotels, which may create an increased strain on lodging in impacted areas.
- Sleeper trailers may need modifications to filter air and separate workers, which may also reduce capacity.
- Prepackaging meals for workers will reduce chances of cross contamination.
- More staging sites may be required to ensure social distancing is possible.
- Capacity limits may need to be established for staging sites.
- Aid may not be as readily available due to other areas being affected by the pandemic or due to entities not being willing to send as many workers.
- Logistics may be more difficult, which may increase the response times for crews from different areas.
This is not a comprehensive list of issues to consider. Please be safe and maintain safe personal distancing in your work and personal life. We hope not to need any restoration plans, but it is best that all be prepared in case we have to contend with another major hurricane.