Final home gets power back after blizzard damage

Jersey Electricity engineers have restored supply to the last of 206 homes that lost power due to overhead cable damage caused during the last two days of artic weather and storm force winds.

Repair teams who answered the first of a total of 55 incidents in 36 hours at 3am on Monday and have worked often in blizzard conditions from before dawn until after 10pm since then, got the lights back on at the final property in La Ruelle Vaucluse, St Helier at 6.30pm today (Wednesday 13).

With over 200 homes across 11 parishes blacked out at the height of the emergency, the men from JE's Distribution Division faced huge challenges reaching the damage locations.

Linesman3The first and worst affected parishes on Monday were St Lawrence, and St Peter, followed by St Mary and Trinity. By Tuesday morning the list had grown to include cable damage and power loss in homes in every parish except St Clement but by lunchtime 100 homes had their power restored.

With a let up in the blizzard conditions and help from the parishes, TTS and our tree cutters in clearing routes to the damaged cables, engineers were able to forge ahead on Tuesday afternoon and restore power to a further 60 homes by early evening.

 Though around 30 people and their parish officials had earlier been alerted that they may be without power overnight, in the end, all but 14 homes were restored. Seven were in the problematic La Rue area of St Martin, where a spur had to disconnected  to allow the main line to be re-energised and four were in St Mary.

Energy Division Director David Padfield witnessed some of the challenges faced by his men first on hand on Tuesday and said: 'Our teams have worked long hours and done an incredible job in atrocious and often dangerous conditions.

'I'm sorry we couldn't restore every customer quicker but in some cases the elements were very much against us. We tried our very best.'

Linesman2Jersey Electricity CEO Chris Ambler, who visited field engineers on the north coast on Wednesday, said: It is quite staggering what these men have achieved given the appalling conditions - and they've done it with the highest level of professionalism and regard for safety. Jersey hasn't seen this extreme of weather for 30 years and we haven't seen damage on this scale since the Great Storm of '87.

Mr Ambler went on to say, 'we should also note the significant and important contributions of our support functions such Customer Care and our communications team who played an essential role in coordinating with customers and the parishes as well as our Generation Division, who have robustly maintained supplies at La Collette.  It really has been a team effort across the Company.

Our staff are very proud of "keeping the lights on", and I am very proud of their efforts to do so.'

Despite the hardship of those affected, many customers and parish officials were fulsome in their praise and admiration of the engineers.

St Ouen Parish Secretary passed on 'huge thanks for the heroic service provided' and said the 'early liaison with the parish was greatly appreciated'.

Linesman4The Constable of St Lawrence sent a 'huge thank you from the parish, as a whole to the JE team who have worked so hard to restore supplies over the past few days', and said she really appreciated the difficult conditions we had been working under in the field.

Ms Nicola Reeves of St Saviour emailed to say: 'I wanted to extend a personal thank you to the JEC team for restoring power to Le Tapon Cottage.  After a very miserable Monday night, I am particularly appreciative in view of the emergency conditions you were all working under and the number of other weather-caused problems you were having to deal with.'

Marcus Butel of The Sign Studio said:  'Please pass on my thanks for the engineers who got our power back on yesterday within three hours of reporting!'