Belco may get outside support
Extra crews from Caribbean utility companies could be called in to help local power provider Belco deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzalo.
The company, which is a member of the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation, said it was in talks with CARILEC to boost the local workforce already hard taxed by recovery efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Fay — which knocked out power for nearly 28,000 of the total 35,500 metered customers.
Caribbean crews came to assist after the Island was lashed in 2003 by Hurricane Fabian — and Belco has sent staff to help out in the Caribbean, most recently five years ago in Cayman. Asked how many extra workers could come to boost local efforts, a Belco spokeswoman said: “In terms of numbers and skills, we are asking for 12 linemen. They would come with tools and their personal protection equipment, and would be working alongside our crews.”
About 3,700 homes still had no electricity by late yesterday afternoon — but work on restoring power is likely to continue into the weekend.
And, with a hurricane threatening to strike in the meantime, the remaining customers without electricity could be in for a long wait. Although more customers should have electricity back as of this morning, Belco said the remaining outages involve individual customers or small branches of the electrical supply network, and the work required would be “arduous and time-consuming”.
Clean-up jobs, in tandem with Public Works and the Bermuda Regiment, included a troublesome job near Pomander Road, Paget that caused the popular commuter route of Harbour Road to remain closed to motorists yesterday. Crews worked until 10.30pm on the site last night — but an advisory last night said drivers should continue to avoid the route today.
Roads have been largely cleared, but with a full-scale hurricane possible within three days, work crews were hard-pressed to remove debris that could become missiles if Gonzalo hits the Island.
Private truckers have been asked to assist with the cleanup, with anyone able to help was asked last night to report at 7.30am today to the Government Quarry. Thanking the community for its patience, Belco’s spokeswoman reiterated that it would be difficult to predict when power would be fully restored, advising: “At this time we do not know what impact Hurricane Gonzalo will have on Belco’s system or the Island.”
Last Sunday’s storm also hampered phone and TV services. Last night, CableVision CEO Terry Roberson advised that service was back for most customers — but, again, restoration work continued to take time.
“Following Tropical Storm Fay, Bermuda CableVision has now resumed service to 85 per cent of our subscribers,” Mr Roberson said.
“We are aware of the areas that remain without service and we continue to work on them 24/7. We would like to thank our customers for their patience and we apologise for the inconvenience.”
Meanwhile, Belco urged customers still without power or with partial power to turn off electronic equipment and appliances, leaving only one light on as a signal for when power has been restored. Switching off or unplugging can help protect equipment from damage after a storm.
Customers are asked to continue reporting outages by calling 955. If the system does not recognise your phone number, send the correct phone number to be associated with your account in an e-mail to email@example.com or call Belco customer care to have the number corrected.