Orange County, Fla. – As Hurricane Dorian makes its way to Central Florida, the Orlando Utilities Commission is preparing to service hundreds of thousands of customers before, during and after the storm.
OUC spokesman Tim Trudell says that the utilities company is on schedule in hurricane preparations, with resources lined up to take action.
"We're in very good shape right now," Trudell says. "We have staged crews from all over the country, from Texas, Kansas and as far away as Massachusetts. We brought them in, and an additional 235 resources in yesterday and through the night, and have another 75 coming today."
Trudell says OUC will be reinforced with about four times the crew numbers they usually have on staff, and they are all standing by, ready to respond to customers.
Power outages are common during hurricanes and can cause big problems. Trudell says OUC has a plan in place to restore power as efficiently and safely as possible after the storm.
"The biggest thing we'll do is we start to assess our system," Trudell says. "We will look at the power plant, the transmission lines into the substation, those big power lines. Then we will look at fire stations, police stations, hospitals, critical care facilities, and we will address those first."
Trudell says after power to critical areas is restored, OUC will then work to restore power to areas with the highest density of customers, working its way down to less populated areas, trying to make repairs that will restore power to the most customers at a time.
Safety for both OUC customers and crews is a priority. Trudell says that the misuse of generators is a big concern when the power goes out during a hurricane, because misuse can turn deadly.
"Generators are great as a backup power source, but you've got to use them correctly," Trudell says. "Obviously if you use those in a confined space where there's no airflow, you do risk carbon monoxide poisoning."
Trudell says that generators can also be dangerous for OUC linetechs.
"For our linetechs and the linetechs from across the country that are here helping us, you could kill one of them if you plug a generator into your home as opposed to just running it through an appliance," Trudell says. "If you do that incorrectly, not only is that illegal, but you could seriously injure or kill someone."
Trudell says that vigilance is key to getting through the hurricane safely, keeping up to date with weather changes and emergency management updates.
For more information on OUC's resources before, during and after a hurricane, visit their website.