Columbus, Neb.- As Hurricane Irma begins its move to strike the southern Florida coast Sunday and travel north across the state, line crews from Nebraska Public Power District are preparing to support efforts to restore electrical power in the Tampa area.
Eighteen line technicians, two supervisors and a fleet technician, supported by 14 vehicles and associated equipment, are expected to leave Monday morning from NPPD’s York Operations Center. NPPD crews are scheduled to arrive in the Tampa area late Tuesday and will be assisting in restoration with Tampa Electric, a utility with 750,000 residential customers and 2,000 square miles of service territory.
NPPD employees from a variety of locations across the state, including South Sioux City, Ogallala, Bassett, Homer, McCook, Norfolk, O’Neill, Scottsbluff, Plattsmouth, Rushville, Tekamah and Lincoln, will make the journey south.
“NPPD is planning to support any restoration efforts in Tampa for the next two weeks,” said Transmission and Distribution Manager Art Wiese. “We will prepare for any additional support beyond that time if needed.”
Mutual aid requests from Florida began this week in preparation of the storm, which is expected to hit landfall early Sunday morning as a Category 4 hurricane. By the time it hits Tampa it is expected to be a Category 3, with a reasonable threat of winds greater than 110 miles per hour according to the National Weather Service.
Florida electric utilities in the path of the storm have been preparing for several days by pre-staging restoration workers and equipment. They are also coordinating response efforts with their state and local emergency response officials.