While much of Florida braces for Hurricane Irma’s landfall later this weekend, in the event the storm tracks more to the west, Gulf Power crews stand at the ready should the storm cause outages in the Panama City area. If Panama City is impacted, as soon as it’s safe to work, crews are prepared to begin power restoration here at home first and also across the Southeast where needed.
“Gulf Power continues to monitor the changing weather and crews in Panama City are staged and ready to ensure timely and safe power restoration,” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson. “With high winds projected across Bay County, there may be outages and our first priority is right here at home — our Gulf Power customers. After we ensure there are enough resources to get the lights back on quickly and safely here, our plan is to deploy our crews to help in other affected areas.”
Gulf Power has been closely monitoring Irma since before it became the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history and is maintaining a watch on the storm’s path.
Even though Gulf Power’s customers haven’t experienced a hurricane in more than 10 years, the energy provider’s crews have had plenty of storm restoration practice — they’ve traveled more than 36 times to 14 different states since 2008, assisting in power restoration efforts after storms such as Superstorm Sandy that hit the Northeast Atlantic coast in 2012 and after the devastating tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 2011.
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 Assistance Award for its extraordinary work assisting in power restoration efforts in a neighboring or nearby electric company.
Gulf Power also conducts yearly drills to ensure all team members are ready and to practice their storm-related duties. In May, the energy provider practiced a day-long exercise simulating a Category 2 hurricane making landfall in Northwest Florida and again in July.
“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 DelaHaya. “Our team works hard to cultivate what we call a ‘culture of preparedness.’ This culture has served our communities well in previous successful storm restoration events.”
Along with crew and team member preparedness, Gulf Power has also invested more than $225 million in storm hardening projects across the region. With recent and ongoing storm hardening, substation upgrades and upgrading infrastructure using the latest technologies to reduce power outages, Gulf Power customers are enjoying fewer outages than in any time in recent history. In fact, investments in the power grid have improved reliability for the utility’s 460,000 customers.
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.
- See more preparation and safety tips here.
Customers can get more detailed storm preparation information on the Gulf Power Storm Ready Center webpage.
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 our 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.