WASHINGTON — One week after Hurricane Irma blasted through Florida, Virginia-based utility crews are helping return power to the Sunshine State.
One member of the restoration team tells WTOP that for the line workers and tree crews are long.
“Our work hours are typically 14 hours a day — 12 to 14, in that range, depending on the intensity of the work. There are definitely long, hot days to the team, so we’re keeping them hydrated and trying to keep them focused,” said Lee Rozier of Chesapeake, Virginia. Rozier works as a manager with Dominion Energy.
Crews worked one day in Daytona, Florida, before arriving in Broward County, just north of Miami-Dade County.
The level of damage Rozier has observed there is similar to what he’s seen after past tropical storms and smaller hurricanes.
“The terrain in Florida is, of course, flatter than what we see in our territory.”
The types of trees and vegetation are other differences between the two states. One thing Rozier has not seen: damage caused from trees giving way due to saturated ground.
“The rain amount prior to a storm entering an area plays a big, big part in trees that can come over more easily. And I would say in this area, we’re not seeing that … It was more wind blowing branches and, of course, blowing some trees over, but mainly branches and debris that had flown around tearing down the conductor.”
Some of their duties don’t take lots of time to complete, but in Broward, they have to maneuver through difficult-to-access areas in order to make needed fixes.
“There’s a lot of backyard construction which is more time consuming, of course, than what it is if you were to be able to drive a vehicle, a bucket truck or an arbor truck right on the side of poles,” said Rozier. “In this case, that’s not it. Ninety percent of our work has been in the backyards.”
After 12 to 14 hour days, there’s very little down time crews have that isn’t related to resting and getting ready for the next day.
“The customers have been receptive to us working and getting their lights back on, and we’re glad to be down here to provide service,” said Rozier. We’re going to work as hard as we can to make sure that that’s completed in a timely manner.”
It isn’t clear exactly how long Dominion Energy crews will remain in Florida.