Bracing for Impact: More Than 40,000 Workers From 17 States Prepare for Hurricane Florence

Sept. 13, 2018
Linemen from across the country are stationed in the Carolinas ready to help the impacted utilities to recover from the impending hurricane.

When a major storm event threatens other utilities' infrastructure, line crews from across the nation pack their bags, fuel up their bucket trucks and hit the road. Through mutual assistance programs and the bond of brotherhood and sisterhood, linemen from across the nation come together to repair damaged infrastructure and restore power as swiftly and safely as possible. 

Before Hurricane Florence even dumps significant amounts of rainfall on the Carolinas, many of the impacted utilities are already prepared. Investor-owned electric companies, electric cooperatives and public power utilities in the path of the storm already have mobilized more than 40,000 workers to respond to Hurricane Florence. This includes mutual assistance workers from at least 17 states, according to the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

With supporting companies and their line crews at their side, they will be ready to restore and rebuild in the wake of the storm, which was recently downgraded from a Cat. 4 to a Cat. 2. Even so, EEI said it remains an extremely dangerous and historic storm, which is expected to inflict widespread and prolonged power outages in the Carolinas and parts of the Southeast. 

In turn, the CEO-led Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and FEMA are coordinating closely to support the ongoing preparation and staging activities, as well as the movement of mutual assistance crews.

“EEI’s member companies in the path of Hurricane Florence have activated their emergency response plans, continue to pre-stage equipment and resources, and have mobilized mutual assistance workers from a number of other states to assist in their storm response,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Mutual assistance is an essential part of the electric power industry’s service restoration process and contingency planning. Strong industry-government coordination and cross-sector collaboration are critical, and we appreciate the ongoing leadership from DOE, DHS, and FEMA in helping to coordinate the industry response with federal, state, and local officials.”

Flooding creates a unique and dangerous power restoration environment. During floods, electric companies work closely with local government and emergency officials to stay informed of the latest conditions and flood risks to ensure the safety of employees and customers. Electric customers in potentially impacted areas are urged to prepare for the possibility of extended power outages.

“Hurricane Florence likely will be a historic event across the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia. Electric cooperatives are praying for the best and preparing for the worst,” said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson. “For nearly a week, electric cooperatives have coordinated recovery and mutual assistance plans ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival, and are prepared to respond to extended outages around the clock as soon as weather conditions allow.”

Additional electric companies outside of the storm zone continue to monitor and assess the situation and are standing by to provide assistance.

“As Florence bears down on the eastern seaboard, public power utilities from coast to coast stand ready to respond if called upon,” said American Public Power Association President & CEO Sue Kelly. “Our national mutual aid network has deployed crews to the region and stands ready to provide more assistance to help get the power back on in affected communities as quickly and safely as possible.”

This photo gallery includes photos of power companies deploying line crews as well as of linemen receiving training and instructions once they arrive on site. If you have other photos of your line crews providing mutual assistance or restoring power once the hurricane hits, please email the images to Field Editor Amy Fischbach. 

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