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Blizzard has lasting impact on KUB

6:59 PM, Mar 12, 2013   |    comments
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On this day 20 years ago, the first snowflakes began falling.

It was the beginning of one of the most significant East Tennessee snow storms in living memory. Many may remember it for the long, cold nights spent without power.

But what did we learn from it? A lot- if you ask the Knoxville Utility Board.

At the peak of the power outages up to 40,000 East Tennesseans were in the dark.

But the melting snow uncovered some valuable lessons- and ever since, the key word for KUB has remained 'communication.'

John Williams is the manager of overhead construction for KUB.

That means he oversees the crews who head out on repair jobs when bad weather strikes.

"Prior to 1993 and the blizzard, KUB was focused mostly on just getting the lights back on," says Williams. "We learned a lesson from our customers and the community that they wanted to know more."

Frustrated neighbors waited in anticipation of spotting a power crew on their street, but other than word of mouth or sightings, there was no way to know when they were coming.

Now Williams says the utility provider focuses on proactive rather than reactive communication.

"We've done all we can to try to communicate to customers as quickly as we can," says Williams.

After the blizzard, he says they began reaching out to media outlets with regular updates. They also implemented an automated phone system that customers can call for updates.

There's also the KUB outage map where people can check the extent of outages.

In response to the blizzard, Williams says they also changed their response strategy.

"For example, the most recent ice storm we had crews that we brought in in advance of the ice event," says Williams.

That meant they could dispatch them ahead of time to areas where they anticipated damage, resulting in a quicker response time.

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