PENSACOLA, Florida – A Gulf Power team of 76 will leave early Thursday morning to assist with power restoration in the Carolinas following Hurricane Florence.
As nearly 1.5 million people face mandatory evacuation along the East Coast from Virginia to South Carolina, Hurricane Florence continues to gain strength, and is forecast to make landfall early Friday morning as a potentially devastating Category 3 storm.
The Gulf Power team — 50 lineworkers and 26 support personnel — will drive north and wait for the storm to pass before beginning their restoration work. Their work location has not been determined yet. The storm team includes an advance group who determines the scope of the damage before crews arrive.
“Hurricane Florence is a very powerful storm and we are monitoring the forecast track, so our crews can be staged and ready to help with restoration efforts for other energy providers,” said Gordon Paulus, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We’re prepared to send crews to help those areas devastated by Florence. It’s what we do — restoring power and hope to our neighbors in their time of need.”
Gulf Power has a strong history of restoring power — both at home and away assisting other utilities. Crews have deployed nearly 40 times since 2008 to help other energy companies restore power to their customers, most recently to Puerto Rico, to help rebuild the energy grid following Hurricane Maria.
Recently, in 2016, Gulf Power responded to the City of Tallahassee and Georgia Power following Hurricane Hermine’s landfall. A month later, Gulf Power storm teams responded rapidly to calls for aid from Florida Public Utilities and Georgia Power, assisting with recovery operations following Hurricane Matthew. For these efforts, Gulf Power was awarded the Edison Electric Institute Emergency Assistance Award or its extraordinary work assisting in power restoration efforts in a neighboring or nearby electric company.
The energy company also received two similar awards earlier this year for restoration efforts following Hurricanes Irma in Georgia and Florida, and for the unprecedented emergency power restoration mission on the island of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
“Gulf Power is part of a mutual assistance network consisting of dozens of utilities. As part of this partnership, Gulf Power line crews provide assistance to other utilities when service to their customers is interrupted due to severe weather, and they have traveled as far away as New York and Texas to assist with restoration,” Paulus said.