More than 100 lineworkers from TECO’s Tampa Electric made their way to Louisiana this week to support Entergy Louisiana to restore power after Hurricanes Laura and Marco hit the region.
Hurricane Marco made landfall Monday night near the mouth of the Mississippi River. By then, it was a weak Tropical Storm with 40mph winds dumping rain all along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
But in a rare one-two punch, Hurricane Laura is coming in on the heels of Marco. This storm, which was just upgraded to a hurricane today, is forecasted to be a Category 3 by the time it makes landfall on Wednesday night just to the West of Marco’s hit.
Hurricanes are nothing new to Florida lineworkers. Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Michael the year after resulted in record power outages throughout the state, and Florida lineworkers were quick to respond. Thousands of lineworkers from across the nation also came to support Florida teams.
Now, it’s Florida’s turn to come to the aid of others. What’s different this year is the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tampa Electric said the lineworkers it’s sending to Louisiana are abiding by strict pandemic protocols to keep themselves and others safe.
They are limiting lineworkers to one individual per truck and one per hotel room. They’re keeping social distance whenever possible, checking temperatures and wearing facemasks. Provided meals are also being served in individually wrapped boxes.
Coincidentally, Wednesday is “Florida Lineworker Appreciaition Day.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas — recently named the most trusted utility in the nation — has been actively supporting their customers and neighbors. During the Safer-At-Home orders, when many Floridians were without a job and a paycheck, Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas voluntarily and temporarily suspended disconnections for those who could not pay their bills.
In addition, Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas have provided more than $1 million to support communities impacted by COVID-19. The contributions went to a variety of nonprofits within the Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas service territory that provide education, health care, food, childcare and many other necessities to those in need.
Organizations that received funding include the United Way, American Red Cross, Advent Health and the Florida Virtual School Foundation, among others.
In addition to these contributions, $500,000 was dedicated to the Share program administered by the Salvation Army to help support customers who cannot pay their utility bills.
Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 780,000 customers in West Central Florida.