When Gulf Power marshaled 7,500 employees and outside resources into the Bay County area in October following Hurricane Michael, they were able to restore power to 99% of the customers who could safely receive power in 13 days.
That unprecedented response to an unprecedented — and now rated Category 5 — storm was the result of the company’s relentless planning and storm drill preparation.
Recently, Gulf Power employees conducted their storm drill for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which starts June 1. They drilled on a scenario where Hurricane Haley, a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds, made landfall on Navarre Beach and moved northward through Milton, knocking out power to almost 81,000 customers.
While that might pale in comparison to Hurricane Michael’s destruction, the ultimate goal is to determine the steps to restore power safely and as quickly as possible from any sized storm.
“Each hurricane is different and offers a different set of challenges,” said Mike Spoor, Gulf Power VP of Power Delivery. “Even though the real Hurricane Michael is still fresh in our minds, this annual storm drill helps us ensure prior learnings are part of our plans, prepare for new possible storm impact scenarios and make sure every member of the Gulf Power team is ready to fulfill their storm duty assignment if we have to respond to another severe weather situation again this year.”
All Gulf Power departments met at the company’s storm center to review their processes, identify any gaps and determine what improvements, if any, need to be made to their storm plans. Plus, they were able to incorporate lessons learned from Hurricane Michael.
During an actual storm, every Gulf Power employee has a specific storm assignment that contributes to an orchestrated effort of keeping customers informed and getting the power back on as safely and quickly as possible.
“We prepare for storm season because we know that when the power goes out, our customers depend on us to get the lights back on,” said Mike Spoor, Gulf Power vice president of power delivery. “This storm drill helps fine-tune our procedures. We always hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst. We’re ready for this year’s storm season.”