JEA and tree trimmers step up to help with Hurricane Michael relief

Tough road ahead for workers leaving their families to help Panhandle rebuild

By Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter, Brittany Muller - Reporter

TALLAHASSEE - Crews from around the state, including Jacksonville, headed west Thursday to help restore power to the hundreds of thousands of homes left in the dark in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

Among the resources JEA deployed to Tallahassee following the hurricane are 10 four-men crews, four troubleshooters, two coordinators and a 7,000-gallon tanker truck.

These JEA utility workers know that it could be weeks before they get to see their families again. But they're not alone. Tree services in northeast Florida also enlisted in the effort.

Like utility workers, Bushor's Tree Surgeon crews spent days preparing ahead of the storm before Michael barreled into the Panhandle with 155-mph winds.

"Yesterday we brought 200 gallon fuel tanks and mounted it on the crane," said Gene Bushor, owner of Bushor's Tree Surgeon.

Thousands of utility trucks, tree trimming cranes and contract workers set out west and up to the capital all morning. They weren't sure what they might find when they got there.

"Fallen trees, just debris, water -- you just never know what's under water," said JEA lineman Robert Hess. "You also got to be aware of low-hanging lines, broken trees."

Meanwhile, Bushor said his goodbyes to his grandson and loved ones before traveling north, knowing full well it would be at least two weeks before they're reunited.

"Our family as line workers and people of this industry and trade, they're pretty used to us leaving," said Hess.

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