Minnesota Crews Hard at Work Repairing Hurricane Irma Damage

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Minnesota Crews Hard at Work Repairing Hurricane Irma Damage

September 13, 2017

The Minnesota municipal electric crews are hard at work alongside those from the Kissimmee Utility Authority, as they diligently repair damage from Hurricane Irma.

By late yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, the 44 men had arrived and were working. Despite the unrelenting heat and humidity, the work was a relief.  Getting there was hampered by endless traffic jams traveling south. Fuel stops were hampered by hundreds of  lined-up vehicles.  Trucks pushed miles up the interstate as they awaited their turn to fuel.

Now, however, the work is well underway at KUA. There is a long list of utilities that need help.  

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by late afternoon yesterday (Tuesday), there were approximately 5.5 million customers without power across Florida (4.5 million), Georgia (876,000), South Carolina (119,000), North Carolina (46,000), and Alabama (8,500). During Irma’s peak on September 11, more than 7.8 million customers were without power.

Approximately 320,000 customers were without power in Puerto Rico. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, electric service has resumed to the airport, hospital, and a few other critical sites on St. Thomas. All other customers on St. Thomas and St. John remain without power.

Industry trade associations are conducting daily coordination calls with DOE to inform the response to Irma, and regular engagement is continuing among the most senior levels of both government and industry.

Damage assessments are continuing in the southeastern states. Every county in Florida and Georgia, as well as parts of Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina, were impacted by the storm. The municipal utility city of Jacksonville, FL, saw historic flooding due to a record storm surge. And, in the Florida Keys, FEMA has estimated that 25 percent of the homes were destroyed, and another 65 percent suffered “major damage.” Where conditions allow, industry crews are assessing damage and restoring power as safely and quickly as possible. In areas where full damage assessments have been conducted, restoration work is well underway.

Industry mutual assistance networks continue to hold coordination calls with the investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives. These calls help ensure that impacted companies have the crews and equipment that are needed for their response efforts. Almost 60,000 workers from across the United States and Canada are already dedicated to the restoration mission, which is likely to be largest in U.S. history. Additional resources may well be needed as assessments are completed in some of the hardest hit areas of Florida.

MMUA is periodically posting photos and information on its facebook page (Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association). Comments there show the Minnesota crews are being warmly welcomed by the residents of Kissimmee.

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