Progress Energy Florida was sending more than 250 employees and contractors to Texas to assist with restoration efforts after Hurricane Rita. They will join hundreds of additional Progress Energy personnel in the state, and their numbers may increase as needs are assessed after the storm passes.
As part of Progress Energy's mutual-aid agreement with the regional utility companies that comprise the Southeastern Electric Exchange, crews will depart from various Florida locations this weekend and travel to Beaumont, Texas, to assist Entergy Corp. in its restoration efforts. Some damage assessment and staging and logistics teams are traveling ahead of the line, service and tree personnel to prepare staging locations.
"Progress Energy is preparing to face devastation similar to Hurricane Katrina, and we will take the lessons we learned in Louisiana to Texas," said David McDonald, Progress Energy Florida's system storm coordinator. "Utilities from the Gulf Coast helped us restore power during the 2004 hurricanes, and we know how important it is to have as many people as possible helping to get the lights back on."
Support personnel, who always play a major role in storm restoration, will be especially important during Hurricane Rita because of the logistical challenges of this storm, which follows so closely behind Hurricane Katrina. Fuel and tire trucks, caterers, mechanics, telecommunications personnel and others will accompany crews to the affected areas.
Rita is expected to make landfall on Saturday morning near the Texas- Louisiana border, and damage is expected to be severe and widespread.
"We appreciate our customers' continued patience on service requests that don't involve outages or emergencies, as our crews are away assisting those in need," McDonald said. "We're committed to ensuring any delays are minimal in those non-emergency situations."