Brunswick Electric shares why preparation is key ahead of hurricane season

For Michael Blue, hurricane preparation doesn’t just start when the calendar flips to June, the recognized start of storm season. It’s an ongoing process throughout the year, training staff across Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation to be ready to serve members safely and effectively in the aftermath of these severe weather events.

Blue, a supervisor of operations, has worked for Brunswick Electric for nearly 20 years and knows firsthand the impact of these storms. Well before temperatures begin to rise, Blue says the electric co-op spends the “off-season” conducting meetings and creating preparation and response plans that are updated and reviewed annually.

During his tenure with the co-op, whose territory spans the southeastern corner of North Carolina’s coast, Blue has worked through several major storms, including Hurricane Matthew (2016), Hurricane Florence (2018), Hurricane Dorian (2019), Tropical Storm Isaias (2020) and Hurricane Ian (2022). He says each of these storms has been a learning experience in how they can continue to improve their response.

“One thing I’ve learned is each storm has a unique complexity, unlike any other, and you have to prepare for all situations,” said Blue. “Situations like these are why it’s vital for us to prepare for worst-case scenarios and have solutions to account for them. Always examine ways to improve the process and troubleshoot your current plans.”

While Blue says he continues to learn and find solutions to navigate storm season, he credits his previous roles with giving him a unique perspective.

Front lines of the storm

Blue got his start in the electric industry in 1997 as a groundman with Pike Electric in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also went on to serve as a crew foreman for several contractors before joining Brunswick Electric. Being out in the field and responding to calls during hurricanes, gave the experienced line technician a deeper understanding of the important role that lineworkers play in these situations.

Michael Blue working in the field (Photo courtesy: Brunswick Electric)

“Linemen are working around the clock to get power back to members as quickly and safely as possible. During storms, we are working 16-hour days, so it is more intense, but in any outage situation, linemen are responding to outages in minutes, not hours,” said Blue. “We run a full crew and small maintenance crews every day of the year. The linemen take pride in restoring power to their membership as quickly as possible.”

The commitment that lineworkers make during those long days is part of their mission to serve members with reliable electricity, even during their most difficult circumstances.

“The reason I decided to work for an electric cooperative is because of the community members,” said Blue. “It is not uncommon for a member to stop and thank me for our service. During storms, restaurant owners frequently offer to feed our crews. We also work closely with fire departments and police departments during outages, and it is a gratifying experience.”

Following the plan

Months before the first storms hit, Brunswick Electric puts together plans and strategies that include where to stage crews and equipment, how to track outages and which forms of communication they will use to keep members updated on restoration efforts. By having a plan on hand ahead of time, Blue says it’s much easier to not only respond to storms but also to pivot and make changes if necessary.

“Everyone is aware and trained to do their part at specific times prior to, during, and after a storm,” said Blue. “We drill on hurricane readiness, but as soon as a storm is predicted to impact our area, there are specific lists of actions that take place at 96 hours, 72 hours, 48 hours, 36 hours, and 24 hours before impact.”

While it’s important for cooperatives like Brunswick Electric to have a plan in place before a hurricane strikes, Blue also recommends that members have a plan they can follow to keep themselves and their families safe.

As we enter hurricane season, here are tips to follow to keep you and your family safe:

  • Have a communication and evacuation plan ready for your family. Remember to consider a plan for pets and livestock.
  • Create an emergency kit including cash, flashlights, important documents, first- aid supplies and prescriptions, non-perishable food, water, clothing and batteries.
  • Before a storm, charge cell phones and fuel vehicles, whether electric or gas.
  • Stay tuned to local news and be prepared to heed the advice of local officials.

After a storm, cooperative members are encouraged to:

  • Never connect a generator directly into the wiring of your home, and never use a portable generator inside.
  • Do not use electrical equipment that has been underwater.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, and be mindful that debris can hide fallen power lines.
  • Follow your electric cooperative’s outage reporting guidelines and continue to monitor online outage maps and news reports.
  • Have qualified electricians inspect any electrical equipment that may have water damage.

For additional storm tips including food safety, scam awareness and more, visit