JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA crews left Sunday morning to head to Louisiana to provide mutual aid to communities in the path of Hurricane Ida.
Thirty-five JRA line workers will help restore power to the communities impacted by Ida.
“Jacksonville has received this type of mutual aid support after major storms,” said JEA spokesperson Karen McAllister. “So we are happy to be able to provide the same kind of support to other communities when they are in need.”
Ida is causing residents to brace for severe damage.
“It’s the people that have to suffer,” said JEA electric maintenance coordinator Matthew Stafford. “We are there helping and working, but their houses are getting hit by the storms over and over and over.”
Stafford is leading the JEA line workers heading to Lafayette, Louisiana, to restore power to communities affected by the storm. They are planning to stay for two-week stints and work 16-hour days.
They are preparing for the worst.
“Some places in complete devastation,” said Stafford of what they are preparing to see. “Poles down, wires completely down, damages to homes, damages to businesses, flooded roads.”
JEA is becoming accustomed to the trip. Crews were in Louisiana twice in 2020 for similar circumstances, but they did not reach the magnitude of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Sunday afternoon as a Category 4 storm.
“Now, you’re thinking you’re going to be setting poles and rebuilding their entire infrastructure possibly, depending on how bad it hits of where we’re going,” Stafford said.
JEA is always willing to say “yes” to the call.
“When we get these calls for assistance, we are honored to do what we need to do to go out and serve and help restore power in these areas after a major storm,” said McAllister.
“We love helping them, but they will come and help us when we need help,” Stafford said. “We are all one big community.”
JEA will spend Sunday night in Mobile, Alabama, as crews wait for the storm to pass.
They will figure out what areas in Lafayette to head to Monday morning if it is safe for them to travel.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny also said Sunday that the city has been in communication with agencies about Ida and he has authorized the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department to aid people in Louisiana if necessary.