The impact of severe weather and the power of the river has forever left its mark at Cass County Electric Cooperative. It’s not something our employees boast about, but the experience they’ve endured with floods throughout the years brings knowledge to the table if future floods happen. There is no question our employees have an armor of steel to fight floods. Here are some measures we have done to keep your power on in the event of a flood.
Substations contain equipment that controls the flow of electricity from a power supply to the end-user (you). Substations are a lot like a beehive. If a hive is damaged, the bees work diligently to fix it and cannot create any honey for people to enjoy. The same goes with substations but with electricity. So we must protect our substations, so we can remain reliable when our members need us the most.
In the past, we have relied on traditional sandbags for most flood protection applications. While we have attempted some automated methods of filling sandbags, the traditional shovel-gang approach seems to work best where fewer than 10,000 sandbags are needed.
In recent years, we acquired some nontraditional flood protection means including the portable Aqua Fence system and the Aqua Dam water tubing. The Aqua Fence uses a reverse
Coffer-dam technology where the pressure of the floodwater keeps the flood wall in place and the water out. As long as the terrain is relatively flat and free of voids, it’s fast and easy to erect and relatively maintenance-free.
An aqua dam is like a giant black garbage bag that’s filled with water, and the weight of the water pulls it toward the ground, serving as a tube dike. An advantage of this system is the ability to use floodwaters as the protection medium.
Physically moving equipment
Due to repeating flood issues, we decided to move the Kindred substation to higher ground. The process took a whole summer to complete, but since the move, the concern for flooding has lowered.
Substations are not the only worry during a flood. Even though our overhead power lines are high above the destructive waterway, they can still be at risk from moving ice flows that develop
from overland flooding that freezes. In many instances, we have buried overhead lines that are in inaccessible areas to limit the chances of an outage.
Materials used to protect equipment
Where overland flooding endangers padmounted equipment, we’ve had success with a few different tactics. Sandbags are strategically placed on the top to weigh it down, so water doesn’t lift the lid off and cause an outage. Other successful measures we have used are placing materials such as rocks or sandbags in front of junction boxes or other equipment to divert the rushing water. Pad-mount transformers are capable of being submerged under several feet of water without concern for a short-term.
With the rise in drone technology since the historic 2009 flood, we added two drones to our toolbox. They have proven to be beneficial in our day-to-day operations and crises like floods.
We can deploy a drone within minutes and fly to those hard-to-reach places where we would have otherwise needed to take a boat. We can see in real-time what the problem is and assess
the area’s flood situation before employees out in potentially dangerous situations. We understand how important it is to keep the power on during flood-fighting efforts, so we do our best to prepare for future flooding. Every year, regardless of the flood forecast, our employees will review the flood action plan which includes three steps: reviewing the Cass County Electric flood plan, taking inventory of flood-fighting equipment and tools, and making sure our materials to protect our equipment are in stock.