FPL is now providing crews to aid in the recovery effort for Hurricane Irene. FPL has sent 160 employees to the Northeast to help in the restoration effort, by clearing vegetation and hanging new power lines.
Juno Beach, FL, USA, August 29, 2011 -- As Florida’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light Company has had its share of experience with hurricanes and their aftermath. FPL is now providing crews to aid in the recovery effort for Hurricane Irene. FPL has sent 160 employees to the Northeast to help in the restoration effort, by clearing vegetation and hanging new power lines.
One such crew member is Vic Arena, FPL Operations Leader. Vic was interviewed via telephone in Newark, Del., where he is assisting on the front lines of the restoration effort. He is responsible for supervising crews dispatched to Delaware over the weekend to support Delmarva Power’s recovery efforts. A storm restoration veteran, Vic understands how to restore power safely and efficiently.
Q: Where are you? What have you seen so far?
A: Our team arrived in Delaware on Aug. 28 around 8 p.m. Upon arrival, we were briefed by Delmarva Power (which services approximately 498,000 electric delivery customers in Delaware and the Delaware Peninsula.)
On the drive up, we could see some damage and we noticed that there were around 40 miles on I-95 in the area of Richmond, VA, where there were no gas stations in operation, due to lack of power. When we ventured off the interstate, we could see flooded roads and I saw a substation that was 3 feet under water.
From what we have learned today, much of the damage in this area is along the coastal areas. We are waiting for our “job packets” and are looking forward to getting out to the areas that have been impacted by Hurricane Irene and helping Delmarva Power get its customers’ lights back on.
Q: What are the biggest challenges moving a convoy like this through a disaster area?
A: The biggest challenge when you have so many trucks heading north for an extended distance is planning the trip so that you have enough fuel. We have to anticipate how far we can go on a tank, which is about 250 miles for our trucks, and we have to make sure we don't stretch it too far or we could run into an area without of fuel. We're traveling with our own fuel tanker but we don't want to use that unless we have to.
Q: Do you have a sense of the work you'll be called on to start today?
A: We are waiting to get our specific assignments from Delmarva Power, but it will likely involve putting wire back up and placing poles back in. Right now we are setting up our site and taking care of logistics on our end.
Q: What’s the morale like for your crews?
A: They're ready to get to work. It was a long drive and we are ready to get out into the field and help people.
Q: Why does FPL send crews like yours to other states to help in disaster situations?
A: We know what it’s like to experience major storms and just as we are helping Delmarva Power now, we have had to call for help from other utilities in the past.
Sometimes when you go on a trip like this, you see some of the people that came down to help you. It’s a bonding experience and this is an opportunity to give back.
Q: How long will you stay?
It depends on how long Delmarva Power needs our help. I can tell you that when we went to Texas to help out after Hurricane Ike a few years ago, we expected to go for a week and I think we were gone for three weeks. This time we've been told to pack for seven days, but I think we'll be doing laundry.
For more images, videos, and real-time updates on FPL's assistance following Hurricane Irene, go to http://www.flickr.com/fpl/storm, http://www.facebook.com/FPLConnect and http://www.twitter.com/insideFPL.
FPL Media Line
Florida Power & Light Company
700 Universe Blvd.
Juno Beach, FL 33408