As Gulf Power customers and residents along the Gulf Coast prepare for impacts from Tropical Storm Nate, the energy provider is preparing for potential impacts to its service area of heavy rain, wind and storm surge.
If Nate affects Northwest Florida, Gulf Power is expecting most of its impacts to be to the western portion of its service area. That does not rule out some minor impacts farther east to Panama City, Fla.
In preparation of the storm, all of Gulf Power’s 1,328 employees are shifting into storm mode and the company expects to activate the McCrary Storm & Training Center in Pensacola Saturday afternoon.
If Northwest Florida is impacted, Gulf Power crews are ready to restore power to customers after the storm, as soon as it’s safe to work. As a part of Southern Company, Gulf Power has secured extra crews from Georgia Power. The energy provider also has secured crews from Tennessee and Kentucky. These extra crews will be staging at Pensacola Fairgrounds.
As Gulf Power prepares for restoration, the utility encourages its customers to prepare to be without power for an extended period if tropical storm or hurricane-force winds and storm surge occur.
“Gulf Power has invested $225 million in ongoing storm resiliency projects across our region since Hurricane Ivan in 2004,” said Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson. “Investments in our smart grid doesn’t mean customers won’t lose power during a storm. It means that our ongoing investment in our grid maintenance, upgrades and technology makes it much more resilient than years ago when Hurricane Ivan hit. Even though customers may lose power in a storm, a stronger grid means faster restoration times.”
Gulf Power teams rapidly deployed to restore power in less than two days when tropical force winds from Irma knocked out service to some 13,000 customers in the Panama City area.
“Our Gulf Power team trains and prepares for these storm events that have such a large impact on our communities and our customers’ lives,” said Blair. “We work hard to cultivate what we call a ‘culture of preparedness’. This culture has served our communities well in previous successful storm restoration events.”
The safety of Gulf Power customers is also important.
“We urge our customers to view storm safety tips on our website in preparation for the storm,” Blair said. “Most importantly we stress two important safety messages. If you see a downed power line, stay away 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. Three people died and several others were hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisoning when running a generator inside their homes after Hurricane Irma left them without power.”
Blair noted that Gulf Power will continue to update its customers with timely information through its Gulf Power app, website, news media outlets 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, 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