ANCHORAGE - When trees and power lines started coming down calls to utility companies skyrocketed. Over fIve days last week Chugach Electric took more than 11,000 phone calls.
“We appreciate those folks and their perseverance in getting through to us, and we also know there were calls we weren't able to answer and that was a frustration to folks, and we apologize for that and that's not a good situation for anyone,” said Phil Steyer, corporate communications director for Chugach Electric.
Anchorage Municipal Light and Power would take taken thousands of calls as well, expect its phone system went down.
“We could see calls were coming in but they were not going through. We'd see 300 calls try to come in and we brought people in to staff it 24 hours a day, but they only got 15 to 20 calls,” said James Posey, general manager of ML&P.
The phone system is one area the company says needs improvement. Posey said under the circumstances crews were as prepared as they could be. He said some were sent into neighborhoods to find outages since customers were unable to call in.
Chugach Electric said every outage is different and what made this storm unique was the soft, wet ground and fully leafed trees that couldn’t stand up to the high winds.
“The trees tipped over at the root, something that is very unusual for us. So we've had that experience from this storm and can only make us better prepared for the next,” said Steyer.
Steyer said the storm could cost Chugach Electric more than a million dollars. The city is still collecting data to see if it can apply for any state or federal aid. Steyer said any relief money would be beneficial so the company doesn’t have to pass on storm costs to customers.