Tampa Bay utilities started sending crews north to help the Panhandle after historic Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday.
Duke Energy Florida, which serves the Panhandle, expects a total of 100,000 to 200,000 customers will lose power as a result of the hurricane, according to company spokeswoman Peveeta Persaud. Duke’s outage map showed just over 29,000 customers were without power as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Power restoration is expected to take over a week.
"Restoring power after a storm can be extremely challenging for repair crews, as travel and work conditions can be impacted by high winds and widespread flooding — making repair work lengthy and difficult," Persaud said in a statement.
Duke Energy Florida is sending extra crews to the Panhandle to help restore power and so is Tampa Electric Co. The Tampa utility said it will send 285 line workers and contractors to the panhandle starting at dawn Thursday to help Gulf Power Co. customers and to restore power to the city of Tallahassee, said Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs. Those crews are expected to spend two weeks there.
Duke said that as of Wednesday it had not pulled any crews from the Tampa Bay area to help out up north. Duke will, however, send crews from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and other parts of Florida to help.
Utilities in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi are also sending crews to help North Florida.
Tampa Electric’s territory is confined largely to Tampa Bay, though it has a small Peoples Gas office — Tampa Electric’s sister company — in Panama City, according to the company.
Any Duke Customers in North Florida who lost power due to the storm should report the outage by visiting duke-energy.com, texting OUT to 57801 or calling the automated reporting system at 1-800-228-8485.
Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.