Staying safe, reconnecting power after the flood

Omaha Public Power District knows many of our customers are facing difficulties right now after historic flooding impacted the area. We understand because a number of our own employees are coping with their own property damage and losses, as well. Through this tough time, it’s important to remember safety, comes first.

OPPD crews have been working to protect infrastructure from floodwaters to maintain safe, reliable service for our entire 13-county service territory.

For safety purposes we have disconnected power to over 1,550 customers due to the flooding and related issues. This is a precaution OPPD takes when directed by law enforcement or emergency management officials. It is for customer safety, as well as the safety of others living in the area, for our crews and first responders. In these cases, OPPD will not be able to turn power back on until flooding subsides.

OPPD is currently evaluating the safety of the electric equipment throughout flood-impacted areas in our service territory. As our customers return to homes and businesses damaged by floodwaters, OPPD urges safety with regards to electricity.

Risks associated with standing water

  • If you have standing water anywhere in your home, do not enter until you’ve made sure there are no electrical shock dangers. Read more about this topic here.
  • Avoid standing water and floodwaters. They may contain chemicals that could make you sick or have downed power lines that cause electrocution. Such waters could also have sharp debris you cannot see.

Generator safety

For those looking at using generators to supply power during outages or disconnections, there are important safety tips to keep in mind.

  • The total electric load on your generator must not exceed the manufacturer’s rating.
  • Portable generators are designed for connection only to smaller selected appliances or lamps. They should NEVER be connected directly to a building’s wiring system. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to a fire.
  • Portable generators should be kept OUTSIDE during use to ensure the exhaust will vent safely. (Use of a generator in an enclosed area may cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or other harmful exhaust gases.)
  • Use a portable gas-powered generator for powering dewatering pumps when electrical safety is in question.
  • Always wait five minutes or more for the generator to cool down prior to refueling.

Power disconnection

  • Customers who would like to disconnect due power due to flooding will be subject to a reconnect process (see Power reconnection section below), which includes obtaining an inspection and permit.
  • To request disconnection contact OPPD directly at 402-536-4131 or 1-877-536-4131.
  • If OPPD cannot access a particular customer due to floodwaters or damaged roadways, the order to disconnect will be cancelled. If that should occur, power will remain on until OPPD is directed by the emergency management agency for that county. This is for everyone’s safety.
  • In the case of a customer’s home is destroyed by flooding and the customer wishes to cancel service entirely, OPPD can end service as of the last meter reading.

Power reconnection

When floodwaters recede, customers must follow a process before reconnecting power.

  • Customers must obtain an inspection and permit prior to reconnection of electric service to ensure safety for all involved. This is required by local and state permitting authorities.
  • To locate where to obtain a permit in your area, visit the Nebraska Electrical Division’s city and municipal government  directory. If your local town or community is not listed, see the state electrical inspector directory for your area.
  • Sarpy County requests that customers who have no access to their homes due to flooding, and who would like to apply for an electrical inspection in order to get a permit, visit their website to fill out a form. Link directly here.
  • OPPD will not charge customers displaced by flooding to re-establish service if they are reconnecting within 12 months.

 

Jodi Baker

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. She's married with two children (a boy and a girl), who keep her and her husband, Dave, hopping. Busy and blessed.

2 thoughts on “Staying safe, reconnecting power after the flood

    1. Thanks for your kind note, Mary. We’re hoping it can be at least a little bit of help for people who are going through so much right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *