WASHINGTON AND HOLMES COUNTY — For Those residents of Washington and Holmes County serviced by Gulf Power, they have issued a public service announcement in the wake of the impending severe weather traveling toward the panhandle.
"We are monitoring the weather system and are ready to respond and restore service to our customers safely and as quickly as possible," the company said. "We are more than doubling our current contractor resources, bringing in over 200 line and tree trimming contractors to assist with restoration.
The company said that as potential tropical weather system approaches the Panhandle today, they is monitoring the storm and preparing to respond.
“This system is a reminder that we are still very much in hurricane season, and we want to reassure our customers that Gulf Power is ready to respond to whatever the storm brings our way,” said Marlene Santos, president of Gulf Power. “Just one year ago Hurricane Michael was a stark reminder of how important it is to be prepared, and we urge our customers to be safe and take action now to ensure they are ready for potential power outages.”
The Panhandle could feel the effects of this tropical storm system as early as Friday afternoon. Gulf Power has all hands on deck to be ready to respond to any customer outages and will be bringing in approximately 200 additional tree-clearing crews and lineworkers to assist in power restoration.
“We want our customers to know that we understand how challenging it is to be without power, and our team will work day and night to restore power safely and as quickly as possible,” Santos said. “We urge our customers to not take this system lightly, to be prepared and, most importantly, to stay safe.”
The safety of employees and customers is Gulf Power’s top priority. Gulf Power said they advise their customers to review family and business emergency plans, ensure they have supplies they need on hand and keep a close watch on the development of this system.
To give customers a sense of security, Gulf Power provided some information on how they prepare before the storm season:Prior to storm season, we conduct extensive training to prepare our employees to respond safely and as quickly as possible if a storm threatens our service area. We secure assistance from our sister company, Florida Power & Light Company, as well as other utilities and electrical contracting companies in the event that additional restoration personnel are needed. We also order backup supplies and equipment, and we plan staging sites throughout our eight-county service area. We have updated lists of facilities that are critical to the community, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants and transportation providers. We also prepare and strengthen our infrastructure throughout the year by: Clearing tree limbs and branches from power lines; Inspecting poles for strength; Upgrading poles from wood to concrete or steel; and Inspecting power lines and equipment with infrared technology to detect issues the naked eye can’t see and making any needed repairs.
The company said safety is their first priority and urged customers to make it their top priority, too, and remain safe before, during and after the storm. They asked customers to heed the warnings and evacuation orders by local, state and federal officials.
To be better prepared in case for a storm, Gulf Power provided some tips of things to consider before a storm:If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your family emergency plan for backup power or make arrangements to relocate. Before a storm hits, make sure your generator is storm ready and keep it dry. Review generator instructions to ensure you are using the generator safely. If you plan to use a ladder while preparing your home for the storm, note the location of power lines before you begin. Be sure that ladders or scaffolds are far enough away so that you – and the ends of the tools you’re using – stay at least 10 feet away from power lines. Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV. Most counties will suspend trash and debris pickup before a storm. Please do not trim trees right before a storm, as high winds can turn cut branches into dangerous, flying debris. However, if you already have trimmed trees, please help to prevent outages by tying down or securing loose branches or other debris.
They also said to stay vigilant and continue to be safe once the storm has passed. Treat any downed wire as if it is energized. Call 911 to report the location of any downed lines. Standing water (puddles from flooding) may be energized from a downed line. Be careful not to touch or step in water near where a downed power line is located. Don’t attempt to repair the electrical system or pull tree limbs off lines. Let our trained work crews perform this potentially dangerous work. Stay clear of areas where there is a lot of debris or downed trees because it could conceal an energized power line. Also, stay clear of chain link fences which may be energized if touching a downed line. Stay away from areas where our crews are working. If driving, follow road signs, drive cautiously and follow directions in the area of a work crew.
Additional preparation and safety tips are available at GulfPower.com/Storm.