Nearly a month after Hurricane Ida roared across the Gulf Coast, communities across the country are looking at the damage caused by the monster storm and trying to use it as a model to be more prepared for natural disasters in the future.
Winds gusting to 150 mph made power lines twist and turn. Officials estimate that around 30,000 utility poles were destroyed by the storm, leaving nearly 1 million people without electricity. Many residents of Louisiana remain without electricity even weeks after the storm.
What lessons can other cities and states take from this natural disaster?
Scott Aaronson (VP of security preparedness at the Edison Electric Institute) shared some insights on lessons communities can learn about Ida.
“This was really wind-driven storm, and wind events tend often to snap poles, cause infrastructure damage. He noted that Hurricane Ida was one of the most devastating storms from an infrastructure perspective.
Aaronson states that climate change is forcing people to reevaluate their disaster plans for infrastructure such as power grids.
It really does depend on where you live in the country when it comes to disasters. “Everyone experiences them differently,” he said.
Some utility companies are ditching wooden power poles to better prepare for stronger storms. Wooden poles are more susceptible to fire and less sturdy than steel poles in high winds. However, most power grids can’t withstand 150 mph winds.
The nation’s electricity grid is also being affected by hurricanes. Pacific Gas & Electric, a utility provider in California, plans to bury 10,000 miles worth of power lines in order to prevent them fraying and causing wildfires. However, the $15 billion price tag for this project is quite high.
Aaronson believes that these kinds of natural disasters should be a wake-up call to communities about how important it is to have preparedness plans.
Electric companies and elected officials will have to grapple with this problem for many years.