Posts Tagged ‘Thunderstorm’

The Value of Mutual Assistance

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
Hours After a 30-Minute Thunderstorm

Hours After a 30-Minute Thunderstorm

A severe thunderstorm struck Rhode Island at about 6:30 this morning, knocking out trees, flooding roads and leaving more than 120,000 residents without power, more than were left without power following Superstorm Sandy. The storm brought wind gusts of 80 miles per hour, along with quarter-size hail and intense lightning strikes.  I took this photograph of a nearby home that was damaged when a tree fell on it. I took this picture when it was safe to do so, in the evening, after most of the tree had been removed. By mid-afternoon, you could heat the sounds of chain saws cutting up fallen trees.

National Grid, the local utility company, reported that the storm had knocked out power to 20 major power lines that serve 12 substations, 70 main distribution lines, and hundreds of power lines and equipment on local streets and in neighborhoods. The company sent 300 line crews, 110 tree crews, and 90 wires down/”cut-and-clear” crews to work with the electric grid to turn the power back on. Then National Grid reached out to its partners in the North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group, a group formed to enable its 33 member utility companies to assist one another in the event of an emergency. Utility crews from eight northeastern states came to Rhode Island to assist in the efforts to restore power.  The mutual assistance framework now crosses national boundaries as well.

Hydro-Québec sent 60 employees, including 50 line workers as well as technical and logistics personnel, from Canada to Rhode Island to help National Grid crews. This was not the first time Hydro-Québec crews crossed the U.S. border to help the response to a severe storm. In January, the company sent 50 crews to Boston to assist after a severe blizzard. The mutual assistance framework provides a mechanism for the company requesting assistance to pay the costs of the utility companies that respond to the call for help and coordinates the logistics to avoid delays in responding.

We also saw informal mutual assistance in action as neighbors helped one another clear trees and remove debris well before responders could access the roads. I work with a virtual assistant who was accessible via cell phone. She re-scheduled my appointments for the day as it was impossible to leave my home. And I had my laptop and tablet fully charged so I was able to continue working and help others who were unable to place calls. The severe storm reminded me that it is time to update my own mutual assistance framework for my business.





April Showers

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
After the Storm

After the Storm

From my office window, I took this photograph of a rainbow across the Hudson River over Lower Manhattan. It is a beautiful reminder of one of the weather risks unique to this season. At any given time, more than 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring on the earth, more commonly in the spring and summer months, but they do happen year round. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thunderstorms always produce lightning, which injures an average of 300 people and causes about 80 deaths each year. It is actually the flash flooding, most often associated with thunderstorms, that causes more deaths than lightning. The following are safety guidelines from the American Red Cross for protecting yourself and your employees from the risk of thunderstorms:

Before lightning strikes

  • Watch for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • Listen to the radio for the latest weather forecast.

The storm approaches

  • Find shelter in a building or car. Keep the windows closed.
  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances.
  • Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can cause overload.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering indoors.

If you’re caught outside

  • If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately!
  • Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or metal objects. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
  • Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible by occupying the smallest surface area.

After the storm

  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

If someone is struck by lightning

  • People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Call 911 or emergency medical services for help.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries.

Make certain that your employees are familiar with these safety guidelines and encourage them to share this information with their families.