After the big storm, prevent additional damage by calling 811 before digging
In the aftermath of a devastating storm, the 811 call-before-you-dig service plays a critical role in protecting communities from accidentally damaging buried utility lines during an already stressful situation.
As the Gulf Coast communities impacted by Hurricane Laura clean up and begin to rebuild, safety should be the top priority for professional excavators, residents and business owners alike.
For clean-up that involves digging or removing trees or fences from the ground, the best way to avoid damaging underground utilities and risking injury or loss of service is to call 811 a few days before digging to learn the approximate location of buried lines in your area. Disturbing a single utility line during hurricane clean up or any other time can lead to personal injury, penalties, repair costs, and expensive and inconvenient outages.
As communities clean up from Hurricane Laura or any storm, keeping the following important safety reminders top-of-mind is essential:
- When piling up storm debris, do not place items in front of, around, or on top of known areas of buried and above ground utilities. Specifically, avoid any above-ground structures such as meters and pedestals that provide gas, power, communication or water capabilities.
- As storm debris collection begins, it is important for all utilities, both underground and overhead, to be identified in order to prevent personal injury.
- If digging is required for installation of temporary poles for electrical needs or if any other digging occurs, remember to always call 811 beforehand to prevent serious injury when digging near underground utility lines.
- Because of storm restoration efforts, local utilities are facing stretched resources, which may impact the response time to locate their underground infrastructure. It is strongly encouraged that all nonessential excavation and demolition projects be postponed in areas impacted by the storm.
- If you suspect damage of any kind to underground lines, contact your local utility. If there is damage to a gas line or dangerous/hazardous lines, call 911. A gas leak could be occurring if you smell the distinctive natural gas odor, hear a hissing or whistling sound near a gas line, or see dead vegetation or bubbles near a gas line. If this occurs, vacate the area immediately and call 911.
- Remember that underground utility line depth varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in one common area. The risk of striking an underground utility line exists even when digging only a few inches, so always call 811 before you dig.
To learn more about your state’s specific 811 processes and laws, click here.