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LES answers call for mutual aid, sending crews to Florida

LINCOLN — Lincoln Electric System is deploying staff and vehicles to help Florida public power utilities with anticipated power restoration efforts due to Hurricane Michael. Forecasters are predicting the Category-2 hurricane will produce a storm surge, hazardous winds and heavy rain, and the storm is expected to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle’s Gulf Coast on Oct. 10, 2018.

Fourteen LES employees with nine vehicles will report to Tallahassee, Florida. Electric utilities in the path of the storm have been preparing for days, pre-staging restoration workers and equipment and coordinating preparation and response efforts with their state governments and local officials.

“Strong winds have the potential to cause significant power outages,” said Dan Pudenz, LES vice president of energy delivery. “Our crews will work diligently to assist other public utilities during their time of need.”

LES crews will deploy at 6:30 a.m. Oct. 10, 2018, joined by a six-man crew from fellow Nebraska public power utility Grand Island Utilities to provide mutual aid. Safety is the industry’s number one priority, and the team is ready to respond to any power outages once conditions are safe to do so, Pudenz said.

The American Public Power Association, comprised of more than 2,000 community-owned electric utilities in the United States, helped to coordinate this assistance effort. LES is a member of this mutual aid network and is reimbursed for all costs of deploying crews to assist other utilities.

LES and its workers consistently rise to the challenge — near or far — when fellow utilities ask for help. Last year, LES crews contributed to restoration efforts in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma, working in the cities of Ocala and Tallahassee. The desire to assist other utilities is always balanced by the need to be ready for adverse events that may take place here in Lincoln due to weather or other catastrophic events.

Follow LES on Facebook and Twitter for updates on LES’ power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael.