In a flooding event (i.e. hurricane, etc.), do officials preemptively shut off electricity to prevent electrocution from downed power lines? If not, how don’t people get injured?


In a flooding event (i.e. hurricane, etc.), do officials preemptively shut off electricity to prevent electrocution from downed power lines? If not, how don’t people get injured?

In: Earth Science

No. People need electricity to power things that provide info about the storm or disaster and there is also the need for it to power medical equipment. It’s also not easy to just shut off an areas power without shutting down other areas power.

No, they don’t. In lots of areas power lines are buried cables. We never lost power at my house during Ike. My house was surrounded by water for 5 days.

On the other hand if a line falls and it shorts out there are massive breakers that disable that line. It’s called a recloser and they keep the current from flowing through ponded water.

I’m a power line electrician, depending on the grid they can’t just disconnect power lines, plus people still need power even with a flood happening, most of the time ground level transformers that power blocks of houses will just blow or short out and cut power to homes that way, if it’s pole mounted transformers then the house panel will most likely trip and kill power to the house before anybody gets electrocuted. But this is not a guarantee and people still die from electrocution in a flood, in a flood power will not be cut so if you’re in that situation BEFORE the flood hits cut the power off in your house from your main panel, after that stay on high ground and DO NOT go anywhere near a downed power line.

People do get injured from electrical equipment. The first death from Ida has already been reported (although that was a downed tree). There will be many more, and some will be from electrocution. Other people will die from lack of electricity because they need it to power medical equipment. New Orleans has reported that its entire power grid is out, including the pumps for sewers. That’ll be fun for weeks to come.

When it flooded here they turned off all the power to downtown before the water rose. It was dark, still gives me chills just writing it.

Thanks everyone for your responses — though all these explanations are equally terrifying.

No, they don’t, and with bad luck your house’s main fuse won’t trigger before you got whacked. Bailing the house out after a flood an extension chord came floating by, and that thing was very much still live. I don’t think I’ve ever sprinted that fast as on the way to the fuse box.

The firefighters and technical aid services have generator-powered pumps/lamps/heavy tools, but not enough to work on all the spots that desperately need it. So power from the electrical is helpful. People along our little stream get flooded all the time. They just break out the sand bags, get their (electric) pumps started early and hope it’s only the basement *this* time.

Linesman in Australia here, if possible we will try and turn power off before overhead lines or ground mounted equipment go under water, not always possible though

There are a lot of “no” answers, but in reality it varies. In my hometown they have turned off the power for significant flooding if the situation called for it. For non-destructive flooding the city turned off power to reduce the chance of damage to the system form water so it could be turned on quicker after the flooding (wasn’t expected to last long). During a hurricane they tend to give people as much time as possible with power because the storm is likely to break lines and kill power anyway.

Those reasons may not be 100 percent accurate, but its how it was explained to me when they did cut power.

It depends (in my country at least). During typhoon season, if a big one is expected, electricity does get shut down hours before the typhoon hits and can last until it passes. More than flooding, strong winds are a problem, and with electricity transmitted through powerlines, trees and toppled electrical poles (the old wooden ones) can pose a serious problem.

They can and sometimes do. There’s people that watch the grid 24 hours a day and have plans in place for almost everything you can think of, and then some.

They will keep the power on as long as it is safe to do so.

Since others have answered your question,

i.e. basically means “specifically this example” or “specifically these examples”.

e.g. means “something like this”