City crews spent nearly 16 hours restoring power to more than 3,200 customers after a severe storm rolled through the City Friday evening, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
The storm began at about 6 p.m., and caused numerous trees and limbs to fall, taking out power lines, and causing power poles to break and fall throughout the City. This storm damage initially caused multiple power delivery circuits to cut off, leaving nearly 2,000 customers without power. Then, a large tree fell on Valdese Avenue at Church Street, taking down five power poles and two transformers with it, causing an additional 1,327 customers to lose power.
According to Foothills Weather Network, multiple microbursts struck Burke County Friday, with two of them hitting Morganton. A microburst is a localized column of sinking air within a thunderstorm, which results in strong winds. In Morganton, one microburst happened near Kirksey Drive, and the other hit near Sanford Drive, North Green Street, and Downtown Morganton. These microbursts caused straight line winds ranging from 50 to 70 miles per hour. The thunderstorm resulted in several inches of rain falling in one hour. You can read the full report about Friday’s microbursts from Foothills Weather Network here: https://www.foothillsweathernetwork.com/post/multiple-microbursts-damage-central-burke-county-friday-evening.
An on-call crew with the Electric Services Department reported to work as outages began, and began restoring power as quickly and safely as possible once the storm had passed. Because of the extensive damage caused by the storm, this was a lengthy process. City staff reported to City Hall to take reports of outages throughout the City and relay them to electric linemen in the field.
By 10 p.m., City crews had restored power to more than 1,100 customers. Realizing the extent of the remaining damage, crews called for additional help to be brought in from other public power communities. Additional crews from Newton and Maiden reported to Morganton to help City crews in their power restoration efforts. These crews arrived in Morganton by 11:30 p.m. Friday, and continued to work with City crews throughout the night.
Crews continued to make repairs into the early morning hours of Saturday, July 11, replacing broken power poles, restringing power lines and repairing and replacing transformers. Power had been restored to all but a very small number of customers by 8 a.m. Saturday.
“Our crews faced the daunting task of restoring power after a storm destroyed critical components of our system. They were able to meet that task head on, and restore power for everyone in a very timely manner, given the circumstances,” said Electric Services Director Brooks Kirby. “We know it is not easy to be without power, especially on a hot summer night, and we appreciate our citizens being patient and understanding while our crews worked long and hard to get the power back on for everybody.”
City crews continued work on Monday to clean up the aftermath of the storm that affected the region. By noon, nearly all of the damaged equipment was repaired or replaced.
“Our crews did a wonderful job in getting the power back on for everyone in a quick and safe manner,” said City Manager Sally Sandy. “We are so thankful for the crews from Newton and Maiden that helped us restore power and make repairs to our system. Public power communities are always ready and willing to help fellow public power communities, and we are immensely grateful that they answered our call for help in a time of need.”
City of Morganton Electric Services Supervisor Bart Chapman works Monday to repair a broken power pole on Valdese Avenue.