The state’s largest energy providers are warning customers to expect power outages as Hurricane Isaias brushes the state this weekend.
“We’re preparing for severe weather due to Hurricane Isaias, including new safety measures due to COVID-19,” Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light posted on its website on Friday. “Prepare for possible power outages, and stay safe.”
Duke Energy Florida also expects outages, particularly in central and eastern Florida, the utility said in a press release. Weather officials predict the storm will reach the Southeast coast of Florida on Saturday, bringing strong winds, heavy rainfall and the potential for flooding.
“We understand now more than ever that our customers are depending upon us to provide safe and reliable power,” Jason Cutliffe, Duke Energy’s storm director for Florida, said in the release. “With COVID-19, customers are spending more time at home and even brief outages can be concerning. Our team is ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible to minimize the effects to our customers. We’ll also adjust our plans in the event the path of the storm shifts or changes.”
Both companies advised customers to report outages and dangerous conditions, such as downed power lines. Because of the coronavirus, electric companies have warned state utility regulators that out-of-state assistance may not be as available as it has been in previous storm events, which could delay restoration efforts in some areas.
Duke Energy noted that work crews will wear face coverings, in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The power company also asked customers to “remain outside of marked work zones and refrain from approaching crews working to restore outages during storms.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried told Floridians to report fuel outages and to have a full tank of gas in at least one vehicle as Hurricane Isaias approaches the state.
“Preventing a sudden rush at the gas pump is key to ensuring everyone can access reasonably-priced fuel when they need it — so don’t wait any longer,” Fried said in a press release issued Friday by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“Early preparation will reduce the strain on fuel distribution, will ensure fuel is available as needed, and will reduce the cost of fuels which can increase due to sudden higher demand,” the agency said.
Fried’s office also advised people to report fuel outages or fuel-quality issues before or after a hurricane to the department’s Division of Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA or FloridaConsumerHelp.com.