Millions in Fla. still without power after hurricane — Here’s how NJ is helping
TRENTON — Utility crews from New Jersey are in the thick of power restorations in Florida along with volunteers and members of Task Force One, the Red Cross and Air National Guard.
Nearly 4 million customers across Florida are without power, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management as of Wednesday afternoon. Over 3,200 crews from the Midwest, Canada and the Northeast have been brought in as part of the largest power restoration effort in U.S. history.
Getting the power back and fuel to gas stations are the top priorities of Gov. Rick Scott thanks to the state's oppressive heat and humidity
"Having just vacationed in Florida last week, I can personally attest to the fact that September is a very warm and incredibly humid month," New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said. "High temperatures on Wednesday were around 90 degrees, with a heat index in the mid 90s at least. That must be really uncomfortable without air conditioning."
JCP&L is sending another 47 workers to Florida on Thursday to assist Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, according to spokesman Ron Morano. JCP&L already has 77 workers in Florida. They are part of 630 workers from JCP&L parent company FirstEnergy helping with restoration.
Atlantic City Electric's 128 line personnel are working in the areas of Tampa Bay and Melbourne, Florida, as well as Georgia and expect to be there for the several weeks, according to spokesman Frank Tedesco.
Tedesco said crews have seen a tremendous amount of structural damage, including damage from fallen trees, as well as downed poles and wires. "This one of the most impactful storms we have seen."
"We expect to assist in the restoration effort over the next few weeks repairing and rebuilding the electric system to restore service to the millions of residents impacted by Hurricane Irma," Tedesco said.
PSE&G linemen, managers, engineers and support personnel are working to restore power in Brevard County along Florida's Atlantic coast with a contingent that includes 85 employees.
"During Sandy, 3,700 lineman and support personnel from as far away as New Mexico and Florida came to our aid. Our folks are anxious to get to work so people can begin the process of rebuilding and returning to a normal life," spokeswoman Brooke Houston said.
Red Cross has 40 disaster volunteers from New Jersey in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to spokeswoman Diane Concannon. The Red Cross' emergency response vehicle is at a Naples shelter and will be working with kitchens in Fort Myers to work with shelters.
Volunteers that went to Texas during Hurricane Harvey came home and went to Florida.
"With Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief efforts more than 100 disaster workers from the New Jersey region have deployed to those two disaster areas," Concannon said.
Several New Jersey businesses stepped up with donations, according to Concannon.
"Church & Dwight is sending down two truckloads of personal care items to one of our warehouses in Florida. We have the same from Campbell Soup sending a trailer of Pepperidge Farm snack foods and then we have Konica Minota who is helping not only financially but also with equipment such as copiers and printers for the disaster relief operation in that area."
Task Force One from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management awaits their assignment at Eglin Air Force Base in the western Florida panhandle along with Task Force teams from Nebraska and California.
"(Eglin) has been really awesome," NJOEM spokeswoman Laura Connolly said. "The K9s are training together and the hazmat teams are training together ... good collaboration because they come from different states with different hazards."
Are you, friends or family impacted by Irma? Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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