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Power companies prepare before, during, after storm

JEA, FPL plan to restore power in order of importance, need, when safe

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While Hurricane Dorian sets its sights on Florida, power companies across the state are getting ready to put their storm plans into action.

JEA has a three-step plan in place to restore electricity after hurricanes..

JEA prepares for storms

If outages hit Jacksonville, restoring power remains a top priority. Exactly how fast that would happen depends on the number of outages. Once the storm passes and it's safe for crews to head out, they'll begin the first phase of the power restoration process. The process prioritizes JEA facilities, hospitals, police and fire departments and emergency shelters. In the second phase, crews target the source of large-scale outages and then move onto the third phase, which entails isolated outages.

"We will communicate which phase (of) restoration -- 1, 2, 3 -- that we are in so customers know exactly what to expect as we’re moving through the restoration process," said JEA CEO Aaron Zahn, who added that there is an emergency operations center at JEA headquarters, as well as a Category 5 hurricane operations center that staff can move to during a significant event.

JEA recommends stockpiling nonperishable food and bottled water for your loved ones and any pets at home. That means you need at least one gallon a person for each day your power is out. You should keep a supply that would last everyone (and your pets) five days. Should a boil water advisory be issued and you're without power, you can purify your water using bleach. Just add 16 drops of fragrance-free chlorine bleach to a gallon of water and then it rest for 30 minutes.

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Florida Power & Light has fully activated its command center in Palm Beach County.

"We have our plans in place, and we’re starting to execute them in terms of our planning and preparation, and we will be able to handle anything Hurricane Dorian throws our way. Right now, it looks like it’ll be a dangerous storm that is going to affect parts of the East coast, or maybe other parts of the state. And certainly, we want to make sure everyone is aware we’re prepared, and our customers and your viewers need to be prepared too, and they need to start putting their hurricane plans into action as well, " FPL spokesman Bill Orlove said.

He suggests as people make preparations around their home to look up and make sure that they are away from any power lines. "You should be at least 10-feet away from any power lines as you’re making your preparations. If you have a charger, these power banks now is a good time to charge those up in case you have outages and you can power up your personal devices and your phones. Also, for FPL customers, we have an app that people can download and make sure we are giving them the latest information about outages and when power will be restored. And certainly, if family members or friends have anybody that needs medical essential equipment, they should have a plan in place, so they can power both before, during and after the storm. And we have a lot of other great tips on our website," Orlove said.

So how long does it take to get the electricity back on after a storm?  Orlove said, "Every storm is different, every situation is different. Right now, there's a lot of uncertainty regarding the path. So, in the next day or, so we will be able to determine where the best places for us to locate our crews. Whether we are bringing them from other parts of the state, or from outside the state, that is yet to be determined. But once we have a better idea where this storm is headed, we will pre-stage equipment and crews. So, we are able to get to the hardest-hit areas as quickly and safely as possible.”

He added "During Hurricane Irma, you know, we had more, a majority of our customers that were out of power out of 5 million customers, 4.4 million were affected.  Some of those were restored within a couple of days, (for) others it took 10 days, so every storm is different. Hurricane Wilma, which was one of the strongest storms to hit out area back in 2005, it took us 18 days to get all the lights back on. So, we’ve seen over time the improvements and the enhancements we’ve made to the grid, have helped us get the lights back on faster. But right now it’s really too early to say with Hurricane Dorian.”