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Power providers brace for winter storm

Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 19:13:55-05

CANTON, Ohio — Power providers across Northeast Ohio are preparing for the latest winter storm and keeping local crews close as utilities across the country deal with widespread outages.

First Energy said it has more than 500 workers across Northeast Ohio.

American Electric Power has more than 70 workers in the Canton area.

"We just have to be ready," said Dave Callahan, Emergency Preparedness Manager for AEP Ohio. "It's all about being prepared and having ourselves ready and in position to move when the time comes."

Typically if a winter storm hits the area, crews from other states including those in southern states can be put on standby to help in case of widespread power problems here.

But as southern states deal with a rare winter storm and widespread outages there, re-enforcements could be hard to find this time.

"In other cases, there would be times we send our crews to assist with some of our sister utilities as far east as New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania," said Lauren Siburkis with First Energy. "However, in this case, we are holding our resources in the event that we do experience outages either from this storm or the storm that we're tracking for later this week as well."

Both companies said as long as the storm hits as snow, widespread power outages should not be a problem.

The concern is if it turns to freezing rain and ice which is more likely to bring down trees and power lines.

"If we get something over a quarter-inch of ice, that can start some problems," said Callahan. "If it gets to half an inch of ice, that's when we really start to see things start to fall apart a little bit."

Both companies suggest making sure cell phones are charged and emergency kits are stocked.

They ask customers who do lose power to report it so problems can be quickly pinpointed.

AEP customers can report outages by calling 1-800-672-2231.

First Energy customers can report outages to 1-888-LIGHTSS.