Gulf Power is making preparations for Hurricane Ida as the storm approaches Northwest Florida.

Gulf Power’s 1,400 employees are prepared for storm duty and the utility is contacting neighboring utilities, contractors and tree-trimming crews to bring in extra workers.

The electric utility expects widespread power outages from the storm and advises customers that some outages may last 48 hours or longer after the storm passes.

“This storm will impact our customers from Panama City to Pensacola and we will work as fast as possible, but we do expect it to take a day or two to restore service to everyone,” Gulf Power spokesperson Sandy Sims said. “We ask everyone to be patient.”

Sims said Gulf Power line crews will work during the storm until winds reach 35 M.P.H., making it unsafe to be up in a bucket truck.

“Fortunately our crews have a lot of hurricane experience and are recognized as some of the best storm crews in the nation,” Sims said. “We are called on almost every year to help other utilities across the Southeast. We know we can count on their help now if we need it.”

Gulf Power will conduct a damage assessment immediately after the storm and then deploy crews and materials to restore power as quickly as possible.

The utility works with county Emergency Management Centers to determine priority restoration to hospitals, police and fire stations, water and sewer lift stations and other critical services.

“We know it’s been a few years since we’ve had a direct hit in Northwest Florida so we encourage everyone to take this storm seriously, prepare for the worst and have patience after the storm,” Sims said.

· Turn your air conditioning down to cool down your house. If you keep the doors and windows closed after the storm you can keep your house relatively cool for about 48 hours after the storm.
· Charge up your cell phone before the storm — and anything else that needs to be charged up.
· Stay away from all downed lines. Warn others to do the same and contact Gulf Power or a local law enforcement agency.
Wait a reasonable time after the storm passes before calling Gulf Power if your entire neighborhood is without power. Extra calls jam switchboards and slow repairs. Please call only once.
· Keep freezer doors closed and sealed. Well-filled freezers keep most foods frozen two to three days if the door is kept closed.
· Do not connect portable generators to your household wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and Gulf Power employees working on the lines in your neighborhood. Connect only essential appliances directly to the generator.
· If your meter box or the mast on top of your meter box is damaged, those two items belong to you and you must have repairs made by an electrician before Gulf Power can restore power.
· If you have flooding in your home — above or at the level of your outlets — Gulf Power will not be able to restore power until the home has been inspected by the city of the county.
· Last — and probably most important — is be patient. Don’t stop Gulf Power crews to report an outage or ask for information. Before neighborhood lines can be worked on, Gulf Power crews must first repair larger lines that bring power to neighborhoods. The crews are working as safely and as quickly as they can.

For power outages: 1-800-GU-POWER (487-6937)

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