The 70-person Gulf Power storm restoration team returned to Northwest Florida Tuesday after spending more than two weeks assisting utilities in the Northeastern United States affected by Hurricane Sandy.
A total of 48 line crew personnel and 22 support personnel assisted Pennsylvania Electric Company in the Philadelphia area for about a week and a half, then assisted PSE&G in New Jersey until being released Sunday morning.
The crews completed the 1,200-mile, 2 1/2-day return Tuesday. The 14-person evaluator team that assisted Mon Power in West Virginia returned home this weekend.
"We are tired and we're glad to be back home," said Mark McBride, the storm team leader. "But it was satisfying work, knowing we were helping customers get their lights back on after the storm. We've been there before when we needed assistance so it was gratifying to help others in need."Gulf Power is part of a mutual assistance program in which utilities assist others when weather events create numerous outages.
This was the fourth storm trip that Gulf Power crews have made in the last six months to assist other utilities. Crews worked in Virginia following a major storm/wind event in July; worked in south Florida following Tropical Storm Debbie; and assisted Mississippi Entergy in late August/early September after Hurricane Isaac.
"Helping customers is the core of what we do," said Jeff Rogers, Corporate Communications Manager. "It doesn't matter if it's here in Northwest Florida or others far away. The customer is at the center of everything we do. These experiences make us better prepared to deal with natural disasters for our customers."
This storm team spent most of their time in the Philadelphia suburbs. Once they moved to New Jersey, they encountered cold, snowy conditions from a front that dropped 4-6 inches in the area. Temperatures generally hovered in the 40s and 50s while they were working.
"We were prepared for the cold, and we've worked storm duty for ice storms before so we were prepared for those kind of conditions," McBride said. "Our employees know the importance of customers having power and we were only too glad to help."