AES Ohio calls contractor for help with expected ice storm

Heavy rain, followed by ice and snow expected; both ODOT and utility gear up

AES Ohio and the Ohio Department of Transportation both said they are preparing for heavy ice and snow expected to arrive in force starting Wednesday evening.

AES Ohio, the Dayton area’s electric utility, has called for contracted assistance to help with what could well be downed power lines, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

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“We are making those calls,” AES Ohio spokeswoman Mary Ann Kabel said. “We do have contracted services with Davis Elliot, with crews that will help to support us.”

Davis H. Elliot Co. Inc. is a Lexington, Ky.-based electrical contractor specializing in overhead and underground distribution, transmission lines and other electric infrastructure. The company touts its experience in emergency power restoration, and it has a Miamisburg location.

Staffing is key, and it will be for a lot of Ohio utilities and electric companies in other states, Kabel said.

“We can see what’s coming, and we’re preparing for that,” she said.

The National Weather Service has called for rain, snow, and sleet in the Dayton area before 4 a.m. Thursday, then snow, freezing rain, and sleet, with an expected low around 27. New snow and sleet accumulation of 3 to 5 inches is possible Thursday, the weather service has said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is getting ready as well.

“Statewide, we’re prepping for everything from heavy snow in the north, ice in the middle, and heavy rain in the south,” ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said. “This storm system will give us a little of everything. Ice is the worst thing we have to deal with. There’s not a ton we can do with it except salt and salt and salt.

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Added Bruning: “Travel is highly discouraged, especially on Thursday and into Friday.”

The forecast for Southern Ohio shows potential for heavy rain that could lead to flooding before it changes over to freezing rain or snow, an ODOT release said. Motorists are advised to never drive through high water or around barricades.

“Even with our crews out in full force, roads will likely be snow and ice-covered, and it will take much longer to travel,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “Once the storm moves out, our crews will be able to make progress toward getting traffic moving at regular speed.”

ODOT’s goal is to have average traffic speed on primary routes back to within 10 mph of the posted speed limit within 2 hours and secondary routes within 4 hours of the end of a storm. ODOT said it hit that goal 95% of the time last winter.

The Dayton utility is monitoring weather, and the company has formed a storm team, gathering staffing needed in its call center, its dispatch center and for power line crews.

Ice accumulation is the chief concern. When accumulation reaches up to a half-inch or more, especially with wind, the chance of downed tree branches and downed transmission lines is a concern that only grows, Kabel said.

“Our crews are ready to respond if power outages occur,” AES Ohio said in a statement Monday. “AES Ohio is urging its customers to put safety first, be weather aware and avoid unnecessary travel during dangerous conditions.”

“Remain patient. Every electric company — including AES Ohio — has a detailed plan for restoring electricity as quickly and safely as possible after a power outage,” the company also said.

Typically, one of the first steps a power company takes is to make sure that power is no longer flowing through downed lines. Restoration then proceeds based on “established priorities,” said AES Ohio, the former Dayton Power & Light.

Customers can report downed power lines and outages anytime online at aesohio.com/outages or by calling 877-4OUTAGE (877-468-8243).

AES Ohio is advising customers to have emergency storm kits readily available. The company recommends an emergency radio (battery powered or solar charged), mobile device chargers, flashlights, first aid kits, non-perishable food items, water, face coverings, hand sanitizer, batteries and other necessities.

Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours.

If the indoor temperature drops to 55F or below, open faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.

“Safety is just No. 1. I emphasize that all the time,” Kabel said.

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