JEA, FPL send crews to help Panhandle as Hurricane Sally drenches coast

30 water and wastewater crew members with J-E-A are getting ready to head out to Escambia County to help during Hurricane Sally.. Escambia County sits right on the Florida/ Alabama border.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than two dozen JEA crew members headed toward Escambia County on Wednesday morning to help as Hurricane Sally pummeled the area, and Florida Power and Light committed 1,800 lineworkers and contractors to the Panhandle to help restore services.

“FPL always stands ready to support our partner utilities in their time of need, just as they have supported us in previous hurricane restoration efforts,” said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. “In this case, we’re lending our support to our sister company – Gulf Power – whose customers are feeling the worst of Hurricane Sally including severe flooding and power outages.”

Escambia County sits on the Florida/Alabama border. Crews staged at the Tallahassee Airport before heading to Escambia County in the afternoon.

It’s the third time JEA crew members have been called to help those in other counties this hurricane season, most recently they went to help Gulf Coast communities impacted by Hurricane Laura, where FPL also sent crews to help.

The 30 water and wastewater crew members left at 8 a.m. to help with service restoration, beginning Thursday, or as soon as it is safe to do so once the storm passes.

Of course, COVID-19 safety precautions are in place.

In all, JEA is sending 30 crew members, vehicles and 12 six-inch water pumps to assist in the mission.

While JEA has long worked to help Northeast Florida and other communities after storms, taking on a mission during COVID-19 is still a relatively new experience. JEA says safety procedures are still in place. They include:

  • Wearing masks
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet apart
  • Daily sanitizing of JEA vehicles and equipment
  • Limiting the number of workers in spaces
  • Daily health screenings, which include temperature checks

JEA crews are expected to work for up to 14 days, depending on how long it takes to get the area back in order after the storm.

FPL said its crews, many of them veterans of other hurricanes, will be prepared to work side-by-side with the team at Gulf Power, working 16-hour days and keeping restoration going around the clock until every customer is restored.

Before making the decision to send help, FPL makes sure its customers are taken care of and that no other storms are on the immediate horizon, the utility said.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.