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OPPD mutual aid crews return to Nebraska

September 29, 2022 | Jason Kuiper | mutual aid, public power, severe weather, T&D, weather
hurricane ian mutual aid

Update, Oct. 5: OPPD crews have returned home from their trip to Florida to provide mutual aid in the Hurricane Ian restoration. The crews were released from the utility they were supposed to assist – Winter Park – before they arrived, and no other utilities were able to take them on.


OPPD is one of many public power utilities sending mutual aid crews to Florida to help with power restoration after the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian.

OPPD is sending four line crews, two transportation mechanics, a safety representative and a supervisor to assist. The crews left Thursday morning and will station in Winter Park, near Orlando.

The Category 4 hurricane made landfall Wednesday on the southwestern coast of Florida with winds up to 155 mph, leaving more than 1.6 million without power.

By Thursday morning, more than 2.6 million were without power. Winds and flooding from Ian, now categorized as a tropical storm, have caused catastrophic damage, with record flooding forecast in parts of central Florida. The storm was moving across central Florida mid-morning, heading toward northeast Florida, then southeast Georgia and into the Carolinas.

Help is on the way

More than 650 public power employees from 19 states are supporting the mutual aid effort, said Eli Schiessler, OPPD Papillion Center manager. That is in addition to thousands of line workers and tree crews supporting investor-owned utilities.

“A lot of effort takes place behind the scenes to enable a mutual aid trip like this, and I want to say thank you to everyone involved,” said Eli Schiessler, OPPD Papillion Center manager.

OPPD is no stranger to mutual aid responses to damaging weather events. Last year, OPPD received mutual aid help after the July 10, 2021, storm left more than 188,000 OPPD customers without power at its peak.

The utility has been involved in similar efforts after high-profile hurricanes, including last year when Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana. Other hurricanes OPPD has responded to include Katrina which devastated New Orleans; Sandy, which hit the East Coast in 2012; and Irma, which hit Florida in 2017.

Hurricane Sandy changed the way mutual aid works among utilities. That hurricane left millions in 21 states without power and led the way for the industry to create a national response plan rather than relying on a regional plan.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

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