The caravan of utility repair crews headed north is growing larger, with Florida’s municipally owned power providers taking to the road to help with the Hurricane Florence cleanup.
“As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, Florida public power has prepared to respond by engaging our network of mutual aid,” said Amy Zubaly, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association.
“More than 200 crew members and equipment from 18 Florida public power communities are standing by to assist with power restoration efforts in North Carolina and South Carolina following the impacts of dangerous Hurricane Florence, which is expected to cause widespread power outages and massive property damage,” she said.
Some have already left for the storm area, while others were waiting for safe travel conditions. The crews planned to coordinate with Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, Zubaly said.
City of Tallahassee utility crews, for example, planned to wait in Jacksonville for the all-clear, officials said.
Investor-owned utilities were also helping — Tampa Electric Co. has sent 250 line workers north, and Florida Power & Light Co. more than 500.
A 76-person Gulf Power Co. crew stood down as the storm weakened, but was prepared to help once officials in North and South Carolina assess their needs.
“With the hurricane weakening slightly as it approaches, the anticipated crew levels needed are being adjusted. However, there is a chance we could be picked up by another utility between now and Monday,” spokesman Gordon Paulus said.
“We are ready to help.”
In addition, Gov. Rick Scott has lifted weight limits on emergency vehicles headed north and placed Florida National Guard and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers on standby to assist with the recovery.
“Florida was on the receiving side of mutual aid last year when crews from all over the country came to help us in our time of need following Hurricane Irma,” Zubaly said.
“For that, we will be forever grateful, and we consider it a great honor to repay the favor to our fellow public power communities in other states.”