Israel Electric Corp Won't Cut Power to Debtors During Storm

Hundreds of households lose power - but stores are flooded with business.

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The Israel Electric Corporation announced Wednesday it would not be cutting the power to customers in debt so long as the storm continued.

Jerusalemites woke up to a blanket of snow on Thursday, as did towns of higher elevation, though snowfall in much of the Golan was light over Wednesday night. But it's cold throughout the land and people need power for heat, the IEC reasons.

The IEC’s Dan division, which serves the greater Tel Aviv region, reconnected 32 indebted customers whose power had been cut since Tuesday - but told them that they had until Sunday to pay their overdue bills.

As of Tuesday, the IEC had reported only one major malfunction due to the storm, in Ashdod, where a high-tension line was ripped when the strong winds sent a canopy flying into it. Several customers lost power as a result.

Several hundred customers lost power due to the storm, primarily in northern Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, Rishpon, Ashdod and the southern Hebron Hills, said company representatives.

Demand for power during the storm has stood at 9,600 megawatts, which is significantly under the generation capacity.

The weather interrupted international and domestic flights in Israel on Tuesday, as officials at Ben-Gurion International Airport decided to space out international departures and landings as a safety precaution.

Also in the name of safety, domestic air traffic was shifted from Sde Dov to Ben-Gurion. Arkia and Israir’s flights took off from Ben-Gurion’s Terminal 1, instead of from Sde Dov in Tel Aviv. Travelers were notified in advance, and those who came to Sde Dov were bussed to Ben-Gurion.

Domestic flights scheduled to depart from Haifa’s airport were canceled altogether. Travelers were bussed to the airport in Rosh Pina.

More delays and cancellations are expected as the storm continues. The Israel Airports Authority called on passengers to arrive for their flights as early as possible, weather permitting.

Also on Wednesday, the insurance agents’ association set up an information center for customers regarding the storm. The center’s goal is to provide information regarding customers’ rights in the wake of storm damage.

Customers storming the shelves

Following the heavy rains of recent days, clothing and shoe store chains, fast food chains and supermarkets have been flooded with business.

According to the company sales data company Retail Information Systems Israel, sales and clothing and shoe stores in November were close to 10% lower than in November last year. However, an executive of one clothing store chain said the recent surge in sales due to the rainy weather would make up for a lackluster November.

“All the floodgates have burst open and people are shopping like we are under siege,” says Amir Moshe, CEO of fashion clothing chain H&O. “I don’t know what we will do in January because we are almost out of children’s jackets.” Moshe said that sales on Tuesday at the chain were three times what they were during the Hanukkah holiday and six times that of a regular day.

Some items racking up sales included children’s clothing, fleece pullovers for adults, boots and thermal underwear.

“Sales in recent days went up 300% with some models selling out,” said Aviad Zabary, a Columbia Sportswear franchise owner and owner of clothing stores Ski and Outdoor. “There is a deluge of people calling to rent ski suits to go to [Mount] Hermon.”

Many people are staying at home, leading to longer wait times for food delivery. The burger chain Burger Ranch has reported a 50% increase in the number of deliveries made in the past two days. Daniel Rahamim, CEO of delivery website Mishloha, said that his company experienced a more than 50% increase in the number of deliveries at almost all the restaurants it serves. Delivery times, he said, were on average an hour and a half.

“Today, I think orders will be double a regular day and the problem is that the restaurants won’t be able to meet the demand and delivery times could reach two hours,” Rahamim said.. “Restaurants aren’t guaranteeing delivery times right now.”

Supermarkets are also seeing a surge in purchases. The websites for Super-Sol and Mega have already placed announcements that due to weather conditions there will be disruptions affecting supplies. “Yesterday, there was a 35% increase in sales, primarily in Jerusalem and the far north, but it appears that the entire population is preparing for the storm,” said Ofer Feinstein, CEO of Coop Israel. He said his company had double its supplies of basic necessities at its stores in the north and Jerusalem ahead of the storm and rented additional vehicles to supply inventory to store branches in the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights and Jerusalem areas. Coop Israel will be offering customers hot tea and cookies at its store entrances as well.

Feinstein said he expected sales to drop on Thursday when the current storm is expected to be at its peak. On Friday, he said, people would come piling back into the stores to stock up on supplies so they can eat and entertain at home instead of going out as the storm draws to a close.

Storm damage in Ashdod on Dec. 11, 2013.Credit: Ilan Assayag

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