Half of OPPD’s mutual aid crews who went to help Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma is back at home, and the other half was headed home as of Sept. 20.
“They were really appreciative of our help,” said Chris Coniglio, the field supervisor in charge of 12 line technicians and two mechanics who went to Tampa. They were the first group of 15 that OPPD dispatched to the area on Sept. 12, arriving Sept. 14. And they were the last to be released the morning of Sept. 20.
From the road, Coniglio reported his team worked 16-hour days in hot, humid conditions, assisting Tampa Electric (TECO). While the work was exhausting, it also was exhilarating. “We probably restored power to 5,000 or 6,000 customers, maybe more. It felt really good to help them out.”
The second group of 15 workers left for Florida a day later, Sept., 13, heading to the opposite side of the state – Jacksonville. They arrived Sept. 15 and worked two full days prior to being released from service with Jacksonville Electric Authority. They made it back home Sept. 19.
“The guys wished they could have helped longer,” said OPPD Field Supervisor Tim Potts. “But with the distance we traveled, we arrived on the tail-end of efforts there.”
Still, he said, their journey was well worth it. “We took care of some of the more tedious individualized repairs, restoring power to several hundred customers. I’m glad we could help.”
The deployed OPPD employees volunteered to go help impacted Floridians in their time of need. Both groups of employees offered assistance to other utilities prior to leaving the area; however, adequate resources were already in place.
In addition to the 30 line technicians, mechanics and supervisors, OPPD sent 42 contracted tree trimmers to the area. Ten still remained there as of Sept. 20, but were expected to return home within a few days.
All of OPPD’s costs associated with these mutual aid efforts will be reimbursed by Tampa Electric and Jacksonville Electric Authority.