Preparation means the long term

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Not everyone is convinced by Nova Scotia Power’s response to its performance following post-tropical storm Arthur on July 5.

Saying the conditions were more severe than forecast offers no explanation. A forecast is just what the word suggests – it could be bang on, or it could be not as bad, or it could be worse.

The much-anticipated report from the power utility follows the criticism levelled in the aftermath of the storm, which saw up to 245,000 customers without power at one point. Some weren’t reconnected to the grid for more than a week.

As for storm severity, it’s safe to say a future one of classic hurricane proportions could land, with a result far worse. If it does, an accurate forecast isn’t going to keep the lights on, nor get repair crews doing their job any quicker. The best you can do is have infrastructure as prepared and well maintained as possible and keep the staff in place to deal with breakdowns.

On this note, it looks as if there is light at the end of the tunnel resulting from the report.

Although it might represent only a portion of the outages, the utility underlined the need to identify problem areas involving trees and limbs too close to power lines.

NSP in its report offered such obstacles as another reason for the delay in restoring power, but really it suggests the work ahead. It means collaboration with property owners and municipalities regarding areas near electrical lines. And if there have been hold-outs in this regard, most should get the point after this last ordeal. In the longer term, it will mean burying cables where feasible.

But this all leads back to the same basic principle regarding regular maintenance – requiring sufficient full-time staff in place. When a severe storm bears down, for the duration, all you can do is batten down the hatches. Too late to dwell on the forecast.

Undoubtedly repairs will be needed afterward. But reducing problems areas will improve the response.

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