“Helping Out is Part of the Job”
It’s been nearly a week since Hurricane Irma made landfall on the state of Florida. Given the size and strength of Hurricane Irma, the electric power industry has mounted an industry-wide response that is one of the largest power restoration efforts in U.S. history
National Grid sent more than 300 employees and 100 vehicles from New England and upstate New York–including National Grid’s mobile command unit—to Florida and North Carolina to support Duke Energy and Tampa Electric in their response efforts. Members of our convoy began working Thursday on two substations in the city of Mulberry, Florida. Their assistance will help Tampa Electric restore power to about 30,000 customers. They anticipate full restoration to those customers by the end of the day Friday.
Many of the employees volunteered for this assignment, knowing the commitment could extend to 12-hour shifts for up to two weeks.
Tim Lowkes, lead supervisor of overhead operations from the Worcester platform, summed up National Grid’s commitment to customers, “Helping out is part of the job.”
Jim Burns, overhead line supervisor out of Tewksbury platform feels the same way. “I’m here to help in Florida like all the other crews, and happy to do it. I have 3 daughters that I miss, but this is what we do – help our communities.”
One customer near Orlando, Florida, has a deep respect and appreciation for what an assignment like this takes.
“I’m grateful that my power was restored only 24 hours after being without it. Even more thankful and proud that my brother (Kevin) is one of hundreds of people that left their families and traveled thousands of miles to work around the clock to help restore the rest of Florida and clean up the mess this ugly hurricane left. Thank You. Thank a LINEMAN,” said Jenna Gates, whose father Gene is a senior operations supervisor out of the Utica service center.
At Hurricane Irma’s peak, 7.8 million customers in Florida were without power. Edison Electric Industry President Tom Kuhn emphasized the electric industry’s commitment to mutual aid. “The electric power industry’s heroic and tireless army of at least 60,000 workers continues to make good progress to restore power. Companies will not stop their storm restoration efforts until the last customer who can receive power is restored.”