2013-12-06 / Front Page

Post prepares for Dec. 28 power down

By Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Jo Bridgwater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

A post-wide power outage will take place Dec. 28 to allow Georgia Power to make improvements to the installation’s power substation, but that doesn’t mean service members and their families have to be kept in the dark. By planning ahead and taking precautionary measures a day without power doesn’t have to mean a day of disaster.

“What we’re doing is we’re removing an obsolete and deteriorating lightning protection system,” said Pat Arthur, facility manager for the Directorate of Public Works. “The intent of this outage is to remove the system under a controlled environment.”

According to Arthur the installation will be without power for approximately seven hours starting at 9 a.m.

“This is a preventive measure,” he said about the removal of the old system. “It’s vintage 1950s, that’s when the substation was built. The new system, that was installed a couple of years ago in a substation electrical upgrade, is in place. The old system was left in place as a ‘plan b’. We’re confident with the operation of the new system so we’ve elected to remove the old one.”

The outage will result in most everything being shut down across Fort Gordon. However, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and the NSA-Georgia Whitelaw Building will remain powered up as will installation emergency services.

“The most important thing residents of Fort Gordon should do is prepare for the outage,” said Arthur. “We’ve been publicizing this 45 days out. People that are mobile such as family members who live in post housing and permanent party folks should get in their car and go to the movie or the mall. Don’t sit around and be miserable.”

One preventive measure for the power outage is to unplug all electronic appliances to include computers and all items with accessible electric plugs.

“We have to do that even though we have surge protectors,” said Vince Pacchiana, installation emergency manager. “People should make sure they have flashlights and back-up batteries. That’s part of a basic emergency preparedness kit.”

There will be running water but it may not be hot.

“Residents will have water for sanitary purposes, said Pacchiana. “This is a controlled environment. It’s not going to disrupt any emergency services. They’re (residents) going to have water. All they need is a flashlight. It’s going to be done during the day time.”

Another area of precaution is food safety.

“ A full refrigerator does better than one that is almost empty,” said Pacchiana. “But it’s important to remember not to continuously open the door. Those items you eat most often may fare better if placed inside a cooler. If you think your food may be spoiled it is better to be safe than sorry and don’t eat it.”

According to Pacchiana and Arthur another area of concern is the use of fossil fuel appliances.

“If you will be utilizing a space heater -- propane or other type of non-electric space heater -- you need to do so safely because of the potential buildup of carbon monoxide,” said Pacchiana.

“If you plan to use any type of heating source that uses a fossil fuel the item needs to be properly vented,” said Arthur. “Be safe, if you plan to use any other alternate (heating) source and be certain the area is well ventilated.”

Though the power will be out the majority of the day, residents may rest easy knowing that emergency services will remain fully operational.

“ We want to assure the residents that this is a planned power outage,” said Arthur. “It’s well planned and well coordinated. Emergency services and 911 services will be totally operational and functional. The EMS and Installation Operations Center will be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the IOC will be manned with a robust crew ready to answer any questions.”

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

“We’d like to stress to the command teams and representatives of Balfour Beatty Community, if you have a Soldier or family member that has special needs, such as the use of an oxygen supply, or something that deals with electricity, it needs to be identified and brought forward so we may assist with the development of a contingency plan,” said Pacchiana.

Fort Gordon officials recommend that military families who reside off the installation postpone visits to the post that day until after power is restored. They further recommend that residents of the installation plan now to reschedule holiday visits to their homes during the outage.

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