(ABOVE) Video features an interview with Hawaiian Electric spokesperson Darren Pai, and showcases video provided by Hawaiian Electric Companies.
Video by David Corrigan
HILO, Hawaii – Utility crews are working hard to bring power back to HELCO customers knocked off line by Hurricane Iselle. In a Thursday update, the power company said more than 99 percent of Big Island customers now have power, including the hard hit Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots. An estimated 800 customers remain without power, mostly in Nanawale Estates.
On Wednesday, Hawaiian Electric spokesperson Darren Pai spoke to Big Island Video News outside HELCO’s Hilo headquarters. Pai described the massive effort underway to restore power.
Here is what the company said on Thursday:
Electric service has been restored to approximately 300 customers in Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots who have been without power following Tropical Storm Iselle. At this time, more than 99 percent of Hawaiʻi Island customers now have power.
An estimated 800 customers remain without power. Nearly all of these customers are in Nanawale Estates, where electrical line crews are focusing their efforts and expect to make more progress today.
The storm caused extensive damage in that area, with many streets impacted by fallen trees, downed power lines and damaged utility poles. Tree-trimming and construction crews have been working in those areas to clear roads and dig holes for poles, so electrical line crews can move in and work safely and efficiently.
In the interests of safety, crews will complete repairs before restoring power to the subdivision. Restoration progress may be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.
“We understand how hard it’s been for these customers who have been without power for such a long time. We assure them that we we’re committed to restoring service to all of our customers,” said Darren Pai, Hawai‘i Electric Light spokesman.
Customers in other areas who are still without power should report their outage by calling 969-6666.
Utility crews are working with the county and other agencies to clean up storm debris and damaged utility equipment. As a safety precaution, customers are reminded not to touch or move any fallen poles, lines or other utility equipment.
Electrical line crews are also continuing to work on smaller outages in the following areas: Hawaiian Paradise Park, Leilani Estates, and Lanipuna Gardens. In addition, tree-trimming and hole-digging crews are continuing to work in Hawaiian Acres, Lanipuna Gardens, Mauna Loa Estates, Nanawale, Pohoiki Road, and Volcano.
Although crews have made good progress, it could still take another two weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.Hawaiian Electric Companies media release
Not only are crews working hard to bring the lights back on, but the power company is making a contribution to Hawaii Island United Way
Hawaiʻi Electric Light, Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric have collectively contributed $25,000 to the Hawaiʻi Island United Way. In addition, contributions from employees of the three utilities will be matched by the Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation, up to a total of $10,000. All funds will be used to support Hawaʻi Island residents impacted by Tropical Storm Iselle.
“Since the storm swept across our island, we’ve all seen how our community has come together to face the challenges,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaiʻi Electric Light president. “As our company ʻohana remains focused on restoring power to all of our customers, we’re thankful that Hawaiʻi Island United Way is also directly providing relief to those most impacted by the storm.”
“We are so grateful for the support of the Hawaiian Electric Companies to provide for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle,” said Jeanine Atebara, president & chief professional officer of Hawaiʻi Island United Way. “We have a network of 40 nonprofit health and human service partner agencies which gives us the connections and contacts to link providers to those who need it most.”Hawaiian Electric Companies media release
The Hawaiʻi Island United Way is also accepting food donations which may be taken to the Food Basket in Hilo at 40 Holomua Street, or Kona by Higashihara Park. Please visit hiunitedway.org for more info.
While we are on the topic of HELCO, the power company also issued a warning about scams.
Hawai‘i Electric Light Company has been informed of scams targeting Hawai‘i Island customers in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle.
Customers reported receiving telephone calls from someone claiming to be a Hawai‘i Electric Light claims representative. The customers were asked to provide their social security number.
Hawaiʻi Electric Light wants to remind customers that the utility will not contact customers to request personal information or direct customers to submit payments via options other than those listed on the back of the billing statement.
For your safety and protection:
· Never provide personal, confidential or financial information to an unidentified individual.
· Ask questions or ask for proper identification. Request the individual’s name, company name, and phone number.
· Be cautious when responding to callers from an unidentified phone number. Phone scammers want to remain anonymous.
· Be aware that today’s technology can be used to mask the caller’s phone number and the caller ID could indicate the call is originating from Hawai‘i Electric Light, even though it is not.
· Report any suspicious activity to local police.
To obtain a claim form, please visit one of our customer service locations in Hilo, Waimea or Kona or visit our website at www.hawaiielectriclight.com. ”Hawaiian Electric Companies media release