Pensacola, Fla. — With Hurricane Nate expected to make landfall along the Louisiana-Mississippi Gulf Coast tonight, Gulf Power is activating its emergency operations facility, the McCrary Storm Center in Pensacola. This is the nerve center where all restoration operations are headquartered.
Employees are closely monitoring Nate and are preparing a coordinated power restoration effort that will begin after the storm, as soon as it’s safe to work, when winds fall below 35 mph. All of Gulf Power’s more than 1,300 employees shift into their storm duties when major storms threaten the area.
“Nate is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane with its highest winds to the northeast,” said Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson. “It’s unclear how strong the winds will be in our service area at this time, however, we’re preparing for any possible outages caused by wind and storm surge, and our customers should as well.”
Gulf Power has the strength, backing and resources from parent, Southern Company, and can also call on support from a mutual assistance group of energy providers. In preparation, more than 200 additional lineworkers and support personnel from other utilities are staging at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds today. In addition, 182 local contractors including lineworkers and tree trimming personnel are staged throughout Gulf Power’s footprint.
“We’re putting our plans into action, making sure we can respond quickly and safely to outages,” said Blair. “Customers can rest assured once our crews roll out into the communities they will be working 24/7 to determine the extent of the damage and restore power. To help, we’re staging 215 additional crews and support personnel at the Pensacola Fairgrounds, plus 182 local contractors staged throughout our service area.”
If our customers are not impacted by the storm, we are ready to send crews to the hardest hit areas to assist with power restoration,” Blair said.
Other preparations include bringing in extra materials like poles, wires, transformers and other equipment; and setting up staging sites where workers can sleep, eat, wash their clothes, refuel their trucks and have tools repaired.
As Gulf Power prepares for restoration, customers should always prepare to be without power for an extended period when tropical storm- or hurricane-force winds and storm surge or flooding occurs. Customers who lose power may not see line crews on their street, but should rest assured that crews are working 24/7 to restore everyone’s power.
“We thank our customers in advance for their patience as we work to restore their power,” Blair said. “We have a very systematic process for restoring power that starts at our power plants, then transmission lines, then substations and finally the lines that serve our customers. We’ll be prioritizing emergency services like hospitals, police and fire stations and other critical functions.”
The safety of Gulf Power customers is also vitally important.
“We urge our customers to read about storm safety tips on our website,” Blair said. “Most importantly we stress two important safety messages: if you see a downed power line, stay away from it and call 911 immediately. The line could still be energized and could also energize fences and other objects it’s touching. Also use your generators safely. Never use them indoors or in a garage. Like a car, generators emit carbon monoxide which can be deadly.”
Blair noted that Gulf Power will continue to update its customers with timely information through its Gulf Power app, website, news media and social media.
How customers can connect with us
- To get the latest updates on outages, customers can download Gulf Power’s app and access the outage map for the latest restoration information. The app is free and available for iPhone and Android. Just search for “Gulf Power” in iTunes or the Google Play Store.
- Customers can follow Gulf Power updates on Facebook or Twitter:
- Sign up for free PowerOut alerts through your cell phone by texting REG to MyGulf (694853). Or, visit the Preference Center in the My Account area of MyGulfPower.com to choose whether to receive texts alerts, emails or phone calls with outage updates.
- Gulf Power knows when your power is out. However, you can call 1-800-487-6937 if you have any questions about your outage.
Here are some quick pre-storm tips
- Turn your air conditioning down to cool down your house. If you keep the doors and windows closed after the storm you can keep your house relatively cool for about 48 hours after the storm.
- Charge up your cell phone before the storm — and anything else that needs to be charged up.
- Keep freezer doors closed and sealed. Well-filled freezers keep most foods frozen two to three days if the door is kept closed. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and pack your freezer with as many food items as possible.
- Be prepared to disconnect or shut off any appliances that will turn on automatically when power is restored, including electric space heaters and stoves, washers, dryers, TV’s, microwave ovens, computers, refrigerators and freezers. If not, when power is restored, several appliances may come back on at the same time and overload your circuits, or hot appliances may come on while you’re away or asleep, posing a fire hazard.
- Unplug electronics in your home and place them on sturdy surfaces or relocate them to the highest floor.
- When traveling before or after a storm, be aware of electrical crews working and the potential for down power lines or power poles.
- If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your family emergency plan for backup power or make arrangements to relocate when a storm warning is issued.
- If you plan to use a ladder while preparing your home for a storm, note the locations of power lines before you begin. Be sure that ladders or scaffold are far enough away so that you – and the ends of the tools you’re using – stay at least 10 feet away from the power lines. Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV.
- Most counties will suspend trash and debris pickup before a storm. Please do not trim trees now, as high winds can turn cut branches into dangerous, flying debris. However, if you already have trimmed trees, please help to prevent outages by tying down or securing loose branches and other debris.
- See more preparation and safety tips here.
- Customers can get more detailed storm preparation information on the Gulf Power Storm Ready Center webpage