PUNA, Hawaii: Utility crews are scrambling to restore power to parts of to East Hawaii, cleaning up after the powerful high winds of the past few days. In some areas of Puna – especially Leilani Estates, Nanawale Estates and Hawaiian Shores / Beaches – the situation was reminiscent of the aftermath of Hurricane Iselle in August 2014. Many trees were down in these subdivisions; mostly the giant, invasive albizia that is common in lower Puna. The trees toppled onto electrical wires, covered roads and in some cases, landed on homes.
Here is the latest from the Hawaii Electric Light Company:
Hawai‘i Electric Light crews continue to make progress on restoring power to customers who lost electricity as a result of recent high winds.
Today, crews restored power to 1,100 customers in portions of Kapoho, Vacationland, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Orchidland, Ainaloa, Waimea, and North Kohala.
As of 4:00 p.m., an estimated 2,900 customers were without power in portions of Leilani Estates, Nanawale, Lanipuna, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Orchidland, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Beaches, Nanawale, Tangerine Acres, Leilani Estates, Fern Forest, Fern Acres, Hawaiian Acres, Eden Roc, Wood Valley, South Point, and Ahualoa.
Due to extensive damage, customers in Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, Nanawale, Leilani Estates, and Lanipuna are advised to prepare for the possibility of extended outages through this week.
The process for restoring service involves many steps to ensure the safety of the crews and community:
· Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers and power lines – that need repair or replacement.
· Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles.
· Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
· Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there still may be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.
“We want to assure customers that our employees are committed to restoring power as safely as possible,” said Kristen Okinaka, Hawai‘i Electric Light spokeswoman. “Work is being done to restore power to every community even if crews are not working in your neighborhood. In many cases, crews must complete additional work on the electric system in other locations first.”
Hawai‘i Electric Light reminds the community to be safe and treat downed power lines as energized and dangerous. Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment. If someone is injured by a downed power line, do not approach them. Call 9-1-1 for assistance.
Customers who have not yet reported their power outage are asked to call 969-6666. Due to the high call volume, customers may experience a longer wait time before speaking with a representative. The company sincerely apologizes for this inconvenience and thanks customers for their patience and understanding.HELCO media release at 5 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2015