From around the United States, utilities are banding together to help the State of Florida and Florida Power & Light deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.According to news reports, employees from the Norwich Public Utilities left for Orlando after meeting up with nine other crews from around New England. The American Public Power Association put out the call for mutual aid and crews from around the country are expected to arrive at the command center in Orlando on Tuesday to begin restoring power to hundreds-of-thousands of customers of Florida Power & Light.
Norwich Public Utilities is driving down a digger truck, which is used to install utility poles. There are 100 Eversource employees from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire heading to Florida "to assist fellow energy companies in the power restoration efforts." This includes 30 line workers and support personnel, equipment and trucks as well as the company's Mobile Command Center.
Meanwhile, Florida Power & Light is preparing to begin restoration work and helping smaller utilities in the State with restoration efforts.
Bud Fraga, Florida Power & Light spokesperson told reporters: "Our priority is to get our customers back. That's our first priority. And then as we complete that, if we are able and they need our assistance, we certainly will offer assistance."
With over a million customer, Florida Power & Light serves over 10 million people in 35 counties and company estimates 6 million people will lose power in Irma's wake.
According to TCPalm.com "The company plans to deploy about 16,000 utility workers from 29 different states to begin restoration efforts once conditions are safe....The workers, employed by other utility companies throughout the US., can begin restoration work once winds drop to 35 mph and flood waters recede."
US Today featured a look at the Florida Power & Light Hurricane command center, built to withstand winds of 157mph. This is the command post for 112 Florida Power & Light employees, who are monitoring power outages across the company's customers and coordinating restoration efforts across 17,000 utility workers from 30 states and Canada.
Ed Devarona, senior director of emergency preparedness, told US Today: "We take this very seriously. We train and we practice year round. All the lessons learned from previous storms we incorporate into our plans."
"We want to make sure that every year we’re doing the job that we have to do for our customers when they need us the most."
Header image credit: ABC