CITY OF VERO BEACH, FLORIDA
Hurricane Jeanne Recovery
September 27, 2004
5:00 pm Update
Please be advised that the City of Vero Beach Utilities Department is diligently working
to restore power as quickly as possible after the devastating effects of Hurricane
Jeanne. In an effort to better assist you in the recovery, we have provided answers to a
few frequently asked questions:
When can I expect to have my power restored? Immediately following the Category 3
Hurricane, 100% of the customers in Vero Beach were without electricity. Today Power
has been restored to high priority buildings like hospitals, emergency response facilities,
and the city’s water treatment plant. We are diligently working to restore power in the
most effective manner to return service to the largest number of customers possible.
What if damage to my home prevents the utility from reconnecting?
Those residents and businesses that received minimal damage, or had underground
electric service, will have their power restored sooner than those that require electrical
repairs to be completed by an electrician. Inspections by the Indian River County
Building Department will not be required if the repairs are made by a licensed, insured
electrical contractor. The contractor must contact the Building Department at 772-567-
8000, Ext. 263, when work is completed and service is ready to be energized. The
Building Department will check that the contractor license and insurance is current, and
only then, will it be energized. We want to thank you, in advance, for your patience
during this time of recovery.
In spite of our efforts to identify damaged electrical equipment, it is unreasonable to
expect every electrical device to function as desired when it is powered up. If you
observe malfunctioning outdoor electrical equipment, please contact Vero Beach
Utilities at 978-5000.
Q. What are COVB's priorities for service restoration?
A. City of Vero Beach employees are working around the clock until service is restored,
though daylight hours are needed for most activities. Safety of personnel and the public
will remain our highest priority. The priorities are:
Assessing the overall system and repairing power plants, major lines and
substations that carry power from the substations to the city.
Restoring power to key services essential to community safety, health and
welfare - such as hospitals, police, fire, communications and water, sanitary and
Restoring power to the large commercial areas including retail, grocery stores,
gas stations, etc.
Making repairs to electrical facilities that will return service to the largest number
of customers in the shortest period of time, then the next largest number and so
on until power is completely restored.
Making repairs to the system that require the most work and serve the fewest
number of people.
Q. Do politicians and other important individuals get special attention?
A. No. The City does not give preferential treatment. It is contrary to the hurricane
restoration plan and company policy to single out any individual for priority electric
service restoration. Work is not assigned according to when customers report their
outage, where they live or the status of their account.
Q. Does the City know I've lost electric service after a storm? Should I call to report my
A. Yes, after a storm, we'll know if large power lines have been damaged and you're
without power. So rather than calling us right away, please help us keep the phone
lines open. If you need to report an emergency like a downed power line or electrical
equipment that is sparking and dangerous, please call immediately. The number is
Q. How does the City determine who has lost service and what repairs are needed?
A. We make an initial damage assessment of our system by observation whenever
weather permits. These initial observations help us understand the repairs we may
need to make to key facilities like power plants, substations and main power lines
before we can begin the restoration process for customers. After the initial assessment
― and once it's safe for our employees to begin work ― we dispatch patrol teams to
conduct neighborhood-by-neighborhood assessments. These teams report electrical
equipment damage and what repairs may be needed.
Q. When should I call?
A. Once your neighborhood gets electric service restored, if you're still without power ―
then please call us at 1-772-978-5100. Have your phone number or street address
available when you call to report your outage and an automated system will record your
information and ensure a report is generated to have your service restored.
Q. What can customers do to help get their power back?
A. Before calling to report an outage:
Check all circuit breakers or fuses to help determine if your service outage might
be the result of a household problem.
Call a licensed electrician if you have significant water damage in your home that
might make it unsafe for you to receive electricity.
Inspect the area outside your home near the meter. If the meter or any of the
piping and wires on the wall of your home or office are gone or look damaged,
call an electrician. You may need to make repairs to home wiring before the
utility can reconnect your power. If no problems are readily apparent, we will
connect your service or assist in determining if you have a household problem.
Q. How can I tell the difference between telephone, television cable and electrical lines?
How can I tell if standing water is electrified? How can I tell if a fallen line still has
electricity in it?
A. Consider all cables and wires as being energized regardless of whether they are
electrical, cable television or telephone. If a line is in the water, there is even more
reason to be cautious and consider it and the water energized. Please keep children
away from all flooded areas and areas with lots of debris as the water or storm debris
could be hiding an energized line.
Q. How should I hook up my portable electrical generator?
A. Appliances should be plugged directly into a portable generator, using extension
cords if necessary. For your safety, run portable generators outside the house so the
generator gets proper ventilation. Check the manufacturer's recommendations and
follow them for proper use and load. If you have any doubts, consult a licensed
electrician. Only a licensed electrician should attempt to hook up a generator to the
main electric panel of a home or business. If you improperly connect to a main panel,
power can "back feed" from the generator, including RV generators, into utility lines and
injure a neighbor, property or utility crews working to restore service.
Q. How will fallen trees near power lines be handled?
A. One of our top priorities will be to remove trees and debris that have damaged
electrical equipment and are preventing service restoration. Customers should not
attempt to remove or trim foliage within 10 feet of a power line. If a tree or tree limbs
have fallen on a power line or pulled it down, do not attempt to get close to the line or
the tree. If the line is sparking, call 772-978-5000 and report it as an emergency. Safety
should always be your first priority when pruning. Look up to ensure that you are not
working near a power line. Be especially careful when working with a ladder, scaffold,
pole or tree in your yard. Do not do any trimming near a power line.
Q. What precautions should I take if I'm returning to a home or business that has been
A. If you have any doubts about the integrity of your home or office electrical system as
a result of flooding, check with local officials or a licensed electrician.
Do not stand in water when operating switches, plugging in or unplugging
appliances or resetting breakers or replacing fuses.
Do not attempt to reset breakers or replace fuses until all water has receded. Use
caution. Some circuits above the flood level may still be energized.
Disconnect all electrical appliances before attempting to reset breakers or
replace fuses. Be sure to wear dry shoes with rubber soles and stand on
something dry and non-conductive, such as a dry piece of wood or wooden
Use a dry and non-conductive "tool" such as a wooden stick or piece of PVC pipe
in one hand when resetting breakers. Place the other hand behind your back. Do
not make contact with the metal breaker box and other grounded objects in the
Call a licensed electrician if breakers will not reset and continue to trip. This
condition might indicate a short circuit in your electrical system.
Check for water damage in all appliances and make sure cords and other parts
are dry before re-plugging them into wall sockets.
Disconnect an appliance immediately if a breaker trips, a fuse blows, or you see
smoke or smell a burning odor. Have it checked by a qualified appliance
Q. Why would crews pass my house without repairing anything?
A. If you see a Utility crew passing but not stopping, it may be because work at a nearby
location must be performed before electric service can be restored to you and your
Q. Why am I the only house on the block without power?
A. Fuses or circuit breakers in your home could have tripped and halted power, tree
limbs could have fallen on the line serving your home, fuses on the transformer that
serves your home may have tripped or could be damaged, and the primary line feeding
the transformer could be damaged.
Q. Why do I only have electricity in one part of my house?
A. You could have a tripped circuit breaker, a blown fuse or a broken connector or wire
at one of the service leads to your house. Sometimes damage to these leads leaves
only the 120-volt outlets (or some of them) working. In this case, larger appliances that
need 240-volt service ― such as water heaters, air conditioning and ovens ― may be
inoperable until repairs are made. It is safe to use the outlets you have available, while
you check with an electrician. If it's a problem with a service lead to your home, City
Utility crews will repair the wires when they arrive to restore service.
Q. The electrical service line from the pole to my house appears to be pulled away from
the house. What should I do?
A. COVB personnel will be inspecting service lines and will determine if an electrician is
required to fix the damage or if COVB can make repairs. Conduit that houses wires
attached to the side of your home or business is considered part of the house wiring
and can only be worked on by a licensed electrician.
Q. What are the vulnerabilities of underground and overhead electric service?
A. Overhead lines are exposed to high winds and flying debris. Underground facilities
can be subject to flooding. Repair and replacement time is about the same for
equipment with similar functions. Repairs may take longer if an underground fault needs
to be located and repaired.
Q. What plans does the City have to bring in outside crews?
A. Virtually every City employee is mobilized to assist in storm restoration in some way.
Additionally, we call on other utilities and contractors, such as tree trimming crews, to
assist. The City has mutual assistance agreements with other utilities in Florida and
neighboring states. If damage from a storm exceeds our capability to restore service in
a reasonable time, we will request crews from other utilities. At the moment crews has
come from as far away as Michigan, South Carolina, and North Carolina. We have
approximately 145 people working in the field to restore your electric service.