SWEPCO crews from Arkansas ready for another day of hurricane restoration work near Victoria, Texas in early September.
At AEP Texas, we take a lot of pride in south Texas hospitality. Our employees are proud to live here and make sure we take good care of our visitors. Recently, however, a very special group of visitors helped take care of our customers in the Coastal Bend Area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricane Harvey was the most significant storm to hit the AEP Texas service territory in over 40 years. The Category 4 hurricane wreaked havoc when it made landfall near Rockport on August 25 around 10 p.m. But the storm continued north and lingered for several days pounding those areas with rain and wind even though the hurricane had dissipated to a tropical storm.
It takes a very large and extended team to restore electric service following a storm the size of Hurricane Harvey. Crews and other personnel traveled from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas, along with other parts of Texas. Some of the crews came from other AEP operating companies while many were from other utilities and contractor firms. At one point more than 5,600 workers were involved in the restoration effort.
Thousands of customers posted comments on social media voicing gratitude and awe for these crews, not just because of their tireless energy and commitment to the restoration of electric service, but also for their cheerful and courteous spirit. Despite long hours, flooding and Texas-sized mosquitoes, everyone preserved and endeared themselves forever to customers throughout the area. I can’t begin to express how much pride I feel from being a part of this extended team.
Within two weeks, AEP Texas and its extended team restored power to over 219,000 customers. They restored power to 68 transmission substations, repaired or replaced 549 transmission structures, repaired or replaced 5,726 distribution poles, and repaired or replaced 1,413 transformers. They also replaced over 700 miles of transmission and distribution conductor.
One business noted on its flasher board that “Not all heroes wear capes.” I wholeheartedly agree. It is at times like these that the best of human nature is on display.
On behalf of AEP Texas, its customers and the communities we serve, I thank each of you who traveled to the Coastal Bend area in our time of need. We hope that you will return to visit our area in the future. And hopefully, this time you will be able to leave the bucket truck back at the service center.
Judith Talavera is president and chief operating officer of AEP Texas.