PANAMA CITY, Fla. — One year ago on Oct. 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Bay County area as the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Panhandle. To say the damage was massive would be an understatement as 140,000 Gulf Power customers lost power.
Mounting its largest restoration effort ever, Gulf Power assembled a team of more than 7,500 and restored power within 13 days to 99% of the customers who could receive it.
As the area continues to rebuild today, the power company remains committed to helping residents and businesses get back on their feet.
“The storm was unprecedented, as was Gulf Power’s response to restore energy, while also helping to restore hope to the thousands of our family members and neighbors struggling to recover in the area,” said Gulf Power President Marlene Santos. “We greatly appreciated our customers’ patience as our employees and thousands of other utility crews worked 24/7 to repair the damage to our energy grid. Side by side with our community partners, we continue to work together to bring our communities back, better and stronger than ever.”
Approximately 7,000 poles, 4,000 transformers and 200 miles of wire were used in Gulf Power’s restoration efforts. In many areas, it was a complete rebuild after the 160-mph hurricane lashed the area for hours.
Once power was restored, Gulf Power’s efforts didn’t stop there. The last crews weren’t released to return to normal duty until June of this year. Employees and contractors have worked to return the infrastructure to pre-storm status, conducting three separate sweeps of the system and completing repairs.
“The storm plan that Gulf Power reviews and fine-tunes each year worked, and ensured that we were working safely and as quickly as possible to help our communities get back up and running,” Santos said. “There are lessons learned from every storm, and Hurricane Michael was no different. We are using our experiences to continuously improve our response for future storms.”
Gulf Power is also helping the communities impacted by Michael in other ways.
A $40,000 Gulf Power Foundation Amplify! grant was awarded to the Florida Wildlife Federation to assist landowners who suffered devastating losses to their timberland. The grant will assist some large land owners to help pay for the costly cleanup and restoration that’s threatening to uproot their future.
Gulf Power also is donating $50,000 to the city of Panama City to restore and improve the Woods Ballfield youth complex, which became a parking lot for the army of utility workers who descended on the area to restore power following Michael. Now, Gulf Power is working with the city to help the community play ball again.
“We’re honored to be able to help the area recover in ways beyond restoring power and rebuilding our system,” Santos said. “Many of our employees live and serve in Bay County area communities, and giving back is an important part of our values and who we are.”