As of 8pm tonight there were 14,685 customers still without power, down from the 23,408 customers stripped from electricity as a result of Hurricane Paulette at 5pm, when the storm began moving away from the local area.
At the end of the day, this storm; the first to hit the island directly since Hurricane Humberto last September, Paulette was a walk in the park that hung around for too long. And it didn’t take long for Bermuda Electric Light Company (Belco) Crews to get customers back on line when it was all over.
Hurricane Humberto formed on September 13 last year and was near peak capacity west of Bermuda on September 18, 2019 packing maximum sustained winds up to 125 mph as a Category 3 hurricane, leaving 80 percent of the island – more than 27,000 people without power.
When it was all said and done, a spokesman said Belco was aware of a number of utility poles torn down by high winds in the wake of Hurricane Paulette.
During the last remaining daylight hours of Monday he said Belco crews were out on the road responding to emergencies recorded overnight and on Monday “making damage assessments and checking sub-station supplies and restocking where possible”.
At that point in time the spokesman said: “It is anticipated that Belco crews will begin restoration work early in the morning of Tuesday, September 15.”
In the interim, he said: “It is very important for the public to stay off the roads to allow all essential services including Belco crews unimpeded access to respond to any emergencies and address power outages.
“Belco Crisis Management Team will continue to meet and coordinate restoration efforts until all power is restored,” he added.
“As a reminder, downed power lines pose an extreme danger. If power lines are down residents are strongly advised to adhere to the following safety precautions.”
Those precautions include:
Stay away from downed power lines – at least 33 feet or more (that’s approximately three car lengths)
Always assume downed power lines are energised and dangerous
Stay clear of piles of debris or downed foliage that may conceal live power lines
Do not run from a fallen line. Running from a fallen line may cause your legs to bridge current from higher to lower voltage and you may receive a shock. Instead, keep your legs together and shuffle away with both feet on the ground. Shuffle a safe distance (33 feet or more) away from other utility poles
Residents were also encouraged to visit the BELCO website at www.belco.bm or follow us on social media on Facebook and Instagram for up-to-date information.
Meanwhile, the Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR) soldiers were out on Bermuda’s roads as part of the recovery effort for Hurricane Paulette.
A spokesman said: “The troops fanned out across the island to assess damage, clear roads, and ensure other emergency service and utility workers could travel freely.”
Captain Kenji Bean, the officer in charge of land operations, said three Immediate Response Teams had deployed at 3pm after reconnaissance patrols had assessed the damage.
He added: “All the IRTs have made it out. For the most part, the roads are serviceable, but they have assisted the Parks Department with the blockage near Lindo’s on Middle Road in Warwick.”
RBR troops also pitched in to clear obstructions on South Road from Paget to Smith’s, Middle Road in Devonshire from Montpelier to Orange Valley, as well as around the Tynes Bay incinerator on North Shore Road.
Captain Bean said: “\”The reconnaissance teams don’t appear to be reporting too much significant damage — it seems to be fewer trees and more utility poles that are down.”
He added the RBR Coastguard had crews based at Warwick Camp and the East end who would carry out checks on boats by road until it was ruled safe to put to sea — probably tomorrow.
There are 80 soldiers embodied for the storm, including three IRTs, one based east of the Causeway in St George’s and two at Warwick Camp to cover the central and western parishes,
Captain Bean said: “It’s gone like clockwork — so far, so good.
“Our soldiers have a pedigree in disaster recovery and we are confident that we will carry out our duties in making sure the roads are safe for others to travel.”
He added there appeared to be “very little” damage in the East End, except for Clearwater Road in St David’s, which was covered by rocks and impassable.
Logistics specialists are operating around the clock at Warwick Camp to support the soldiers on the ground and the service’s Operations Room, which will coordinate efforts over the hurricane recovery.
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Beasley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, said: “Our soldiers came in on time and they have the right equipment and the right attitude.
“The commanders are working in step with the Emergency Measures Organisation and the Ministry of National Security to ensure we have a unified national approach.”
He added: “When the call came in that we were entering post hurricane winds, we were ready to go in 15 minutes and out the gate checking roads to make sure emergency services could get through and the clearance teams went out shortly afterwards.”
Colonel Beasley said the troops were expected to be back on the job at first light tomorrow morning “working with their dedicated parks department and Works & Engineering colleagues”.
He added: “The Regiment continues throughout 2020 to show what a valuable and adaptable resource it is for securing Bermuda’s interests.”
Colonel Beasley said: “We are fortunate that our country continues to prepare for hurricanes and we have certainly learnt lessons from underestimating what a Tropical Storm to a Category 2 hurricane can do.
“We are also fortunate that the damage from Paulette was not as bad as it could have been.”
He said the RBR was grateful to the families who “went through another hurricane without the soldier in their life at home” and to “employers who do without valuable staff for the greater national interest”.