Tallahassee crews deploying to Carolinas

City of Tallahassee electric crews began deploying to Myrtle Beach, S.C. today to assist with recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

As stated in a press release by the city of Tallahassee, city crews will be traveling with other Florida-based mutual aid crews on Saturday to assist Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric utility, with restoring power to areas impacted by Hurricane Florence.

The city of Tallahassee responded to a request for aid from Santee Cooper.

According to Carrie Poole, a spokeswoman for the city, “Santee Cooper issued a request for mutual aid, to which the city of Tallahassee responded. Once we received an official request, we worked with the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) to coordinate the details.

“In total, there are 45 crew members traveling,” Poole said. “This includes four electric line crews, a few service trucks and supervisory and fleet support.”

In addition, a crew from Wolf Tree Trimming will join the city’s team to assist with tree removal.

Florida Municipal Electric Association is the trade association for Florida’s 34 public power communities.

Amy Zubaly, executive director of FMEA, expects a successful mission.

“We pulled together our network and found the best utility services to fit their needs,” said Zubaly. “It’s like matching a puzzle to see what fits the best.”

Through its member utilities, FMEA “was able to match Santee with four of our utilities,” said Zubaly. “Along with Tallahassee, utility crews from Jacksonville, Lakeland and Gainesville will also be assisting.”

The crews are expected to convene in Jacksonville, and travel to Myrtle Beach.

General manager for Tallahassee Utilities, Rob McGarrah, says mutual aid was a major help locally during Hurricane Irma.

“Every utility in the state of Florida had mutual aid needs. It was the largest, in the electric sector, mutual aid mobilization that I’m aware of in the 30 plus years that I’ve been in the business," McGarrah said.

The safety of the city crew is a priority. When the crew arrives, safety briefings will be conducted.

“When they hit the ground, they will receive a safety briefing to ensure their safety. Such as, road conditions and water supply,” Zubaly said. “They will use the same precautions and safe working techniques as they do at home.”

City crews will remain in Myrtle Beach to assist with restoration until Santee Cooper no longer requires assistance or until they are needed back in Tallahassee.

The storm, which was downgraded to Category 1 late Thursday, made landfall about 7:15 a.m. Friday, with winds of about 90 miles an hour. By 2 p.m. Friday it was about 25 miles west of Myrtle Beach, and the wind had dropped to 60 mph.