ORLANDO, Fla. – As all eyes are on Hurricane Ida, utility crews from Florida are preparing to head out and help with power restoration efforts after the storm.
Amy Zubaly, the executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, said several public utilities are sending crews to Louisiana, including from Central Florida.
“We have 7 of our utilities heading over to Louisiana. Five of them are going to Layfette: Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, Kissimmee, and Lakeland. And then New Smyrna Beach and Fort Pierce are going to the city of Plaquemine, Louisiana,” Zubaly said.
The FMEA represents 33 public utilities across the state.
Zubaly said they got the call for help this week. They are sending 85 personnel to Louisiana. Crews are leaving on Sunday and will wait out the storm until it’s safe to begin restoring power.
“I’m kinda looking at this similar to what happened with Michael in 2018 and that was an incredibly devastating storm and unfortunately Ida is proving to be similar to Michael in terms of the devastating winds and the amount of rain and the storms urge,” Zubaly said.
Red Cross volunteer Leland Greek is also being deployed to an area that may be affected by Ida. He is flying out of Orlando on Saturday.
“People will be evacuated, as we are familiar with here in Central Florida, so we are preparing for that, those evacuees. And also for the potential people not having a home to go back to afterwards,” he said.
The Red Cross said it is mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to be ready to provide mass care services.
Louisiana saw five named storms make landfall in the last two years. Ida comes 16 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.
Zubaly said she doesn’t know how long power crews will be there.
“The guys that are responding are leaving their homes and their families and going into unknown and somewhat dangerous conditions just to bring power back on to these people that are going to be devastated,” she said. “To be able to bring a little bit of normalcy to someone’s life is really critical and really important.”