Orlando utility crews headed for Panhandle as residents flee Hurricane Michael

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nearly two dozen employees with the Orlando Utilities Commission left the City Beautiful Wednesday bound for Tallahassee to assist power crews in the Florida Panhandle if necessary as Hurricane Michael is set to arrive later this week.

Twenty-one employees in 17 trucks made the drive to the Tallahassee area where workers are preparing for 16-hour days and could be there for up to three weeks.

The crews include damage assessors with expertise in helping prioritize power restoration as well as five three-man line crews.

More Central Florida emergency crews are on standby ready to hed to Northwest Florida if needed.

"We’ll be there until all the power was back on," said Jody Rodgers, a line supervisor with the OUC. "It’s good to be able to pay back because in the past we’ve had a lot of out-of-town people come to help us." 

On Wednesday as linemen were leaving Orlando for Tallahassee, News 6 met several people in Central Florida who drove from Florida's capital to avoid Hurricane Michael.

"These five days off will be a good time to go visit family instead of just staying in Tallahassee," FSU student Blake Yodlowski said. "We’re just stopping through UCF to visit some friends."

Yodlowski said his FSU classes are canceled until at least Friday. He and his friends said there’s a mad dash of people from Tallahassee heading down south over the next few days.

"Gas shortages, and the water was gone Sunday night at Publix and Walmart so we were glad we were able to get out of there," FSU student Ryan Leary said.

FSU student Erica Gutierrez was at a rest stop along the turnpike in Orlando Wednesday.

"Last year I didn’t have power for a week and a half and there’s nothing to do in that city so escaping is definitely the way to go," Gutierrez said.

Even though Gutierrez said she is hoping no one is heart during the storm, a trip down to Miami by way of Orlando was perfect timing.

"So we decided to stop by Orlando and visit my sister who is actually pregnant and about to have a child maybe in two days," Gutierrez said.

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.