Coast Electric, Mississippi Power sending help
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 12, 2017
As tropical depression Irma continues to move through northern Alabama and Tennessee, South Mississippi is sending emergency personnel to the already affected regions.
Nearly 100 Mississippi Power employees arrived in Georgia over the weekend, establishing staging areas ahead of Hurricane Irma.
Meanwhile, Coast Electric employees will arrive in Florida Tuesday to help restore power to thousands of homes, Coast Electric Director of Communications April Lollar said.
Mississippi Power employees from the Coast, Pine Belt and Meridian made it safely to Macon, Georgia Sunday night, just before the storm was expected to pass through the area Monday afternoon, Mississippi Power Representative Jeff Shepard said.
Crews will work with their sister company, Georgia Power, as soon as conditions are safe, Shepard said.
“One of the things that folks may not know, you can work in some wind and some rain, but once the winds reach 35 mph it’s not safe to be in the bucket trucks,” he said.
Once the work is complete in Georgia, Shepard said crews could be sent to Florida to help with recovery efforts there.
“The way the utility industry pulls together in times of crisis and works together to restore service after a major event is critical to helping people’s lives return to normal,” Mississippi Power Vice President of Customer Services Organization Nicole Faulk said in a press release. “Our team will work safely and efficiently to restore power in Georgia, while meeting the needs of our customers at home.”
About 25 Coast Electric crewmembers will also set out to help those in need, leaving Tuesday morning for Keystone Heights, Florida, Lollar said.
Employees from Pearl River, Hancock and Harrison counties will provide construction service, vehicle maintenance and safety personnel to assist Clay Electric in Florida with restoring power to an estimated 150,000 people in its service area.
Lollar said mutual aid agreements between the two states are often put to use after heavy storms, helping to supplement manpower and restore electricity as soon as possible.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma weakened into a tropical storm as it hit northern Alabama and parts of northern Mississippi and western Tennessee earlier this week.
As of Monday afternoon, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, according to the NHC.