Skip to main content

Tip Sheets

Power utilities and state government to be tested post-Michael

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson

Hurricane Michael is fast approaching the Florida Panhandle, and forecasters predict widespread flooding, storm surge and power outages.


Thomas O'Rourke

Professor of engineering

Thomas O’Rourke is professor of engineering at Cornell University. He teaches and researches electric power, gas and liquid fuel systems and infrastructure rehabilitation, and has developed plans for infrastructure systems in areas vulnerable to natural disasters. He is available for interviews about how utility companies and governments should handle power damage and outages post hurricanes.

O’Rourke says:

“The high sustained wind speeds of nearly 150 mph will cause massive damage to overhead electric power lines, causing widespread power outages. Of great significance will be mutual aid agreements with other power utilities in the Gulf states, such as Entergy in New Orleans. Mutual aid is of extraordinary importance in recovering from hurricanes. Its absence in Connecticut after Hurricane Sandy led to lengthy losses of power and problems related to the loss of electricity (ATMs, service stations, credit card processing as well as water supply pumps, cooling units, and power for telecommunications).

“Surge is expected to be as high as 9 to 12 feet. Waves add inundation depth to the surge. Surge is the most life-threatening aspect of most hurricanes, and contributed substantially to the more than 1700 deaths following Hurricane Katrina.”


Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.