HELCO Working to Restore Power to Big Island Residents Affected by Storm

Hawaii Electric Light crews have restored power to most customers in West Hawaii who lost electricity as a result of severe weather conditions affecting Hawaii Island Jan. 2 and 3. About 5,900 customers in the areas of North Hawai‘i and Hamakua, as well as spots in Hilo, lower and upper Puna, and Kau are currently experiencing power outages.

Omeka Street in Eden Roc

Omeka Street in Eden Roc

The windy conditions caused trees to fall into power lines and break lines and poles.

As power restoration efforts continue on Hawaii Island, Hawaii Electric Light would like to remind customers of important safety information.

  • Treat downed power lines as energized and dangerous.
  • Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment.
  • Do not approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, do not approach them and call 9-1-1 for assistance.
  • Use generators outdoors and away from flammable materials. Generators connected directly to your home may feed excess electricity back into power lines, creating a public safety hazard. Plug appliances directly into your generator using extension cords.
  • Unplug unnecessary and sensitive electronic equipment. Use high-quality surge suppressors for electric appliances that remain plugged in.
  • Use batteries to power flashlights and lanterns. Do not use candles or other flammable fuel sources, as they are fire hazards.
  • Be aware of trees and utility poles that were weakened by storm winds and have the potential for falling.
  • Anyone who is without power and who is dependent on electric-powered life support medical equipment should make arrangements to go to an alternate location with power. They should bring their medical equipment and medications with them. They should also stay in contact with their medical equipment supplier for any special equipment needs.

If the service line directly to your home is down, please call Hawaii Electric Light at 969-6666.

“All available crews are responding to reports of downed power lines, poles, trees on the lines, and related issues due to the severe weather experienced on Hawaii Island beginning Friday. Customers in multiple locations are impacted,” said Rhea Lee, Hawaii Electric Light spokesperson. “Our first priority is to safely restore the backbone of our cross-island transmission lines to stabilize the power grid including the transmission tie to Hamakua Energy Partners, and then we will be able to work on restoring pocket outages around the island.

“Employees are in the field assessing damage to aide in restoring power faster. We know what a hardship it is for our customers to be out of power. We sincerely apologize and want to assure them we are doing everything we can to safely restore service as quickly as possible.”

For those who remain without power for an extended time, below are some food safety tips.

Refrigerated foods

  • Discard any perishable food that has been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and leftovers before you cook or eat it.
  • Always discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

For those who remain without power for an extended time, below are some food safety tips.

Frozen foods

  • Foods can stay frozen in the freezer for one to three days: one day for a half-full freezer, three days for a fully-stocked freezer.
  • Food that has been thawed completely and has not been held at or below 41 degrees should be cooked and eaten immediately. If your food still has ice crystals, it’s safe to refreeze.

As a general rule, “when it doubt, throw it out.”

If your power is out for an extended period of time, consider using dry ice if available. Please remember to use gloves or tongs when handling dry ice. Dry ice can be placed directly on top of your foods, since dry ice cools things under it.

Hawaii Electric Light asks customers in West Hawaii who have not yet reported their power outage to call its trouble line at 969-6666. Call wait times have increased due to the high volume of calls; customers’ patience is appreciated.