Crews ready to go to the Panhandle to restore power after Hurricane Michael


Municipal utilities say they are sending more than 200 workers from out of state to restore power following Hurricane Michael, and Gov. Rick Scott says investor-owned utilities have 8,000 workers ready to help.

Hurricane Michael as of 11 a.m. had sustained winds of 110 mph and was 335 miles south of Panama City. The storm is expected to hit the Florida Panhandle Wednesday morning.

At the Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, Scott said Duke Energy Florida had 5,000 workers ready to deploy and Gulf Power Co. in the Panhandle had 3,000 ready.

“We’ve got to make sure we get power back on as quickly as possible,” Scott said.

Tallahassee’s response to 2016’s Hurricane Hermine continues to play a role in the governor’s race as the Republican Party of Florida airs ads criticizing Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum’s response as Tallahassee mayor. Gillum’s supporters have called on Republican Ron DeSantis to take down the ads as the region deals with the approaching hurricane.

Scott and Gillum butted heads in 2016 over the city’s response. Today, Scott told reporters at the EOC that he worked with utilities after Hermine to get mutual aid agreements in place among utilities to provide assistance, although Tallahassee officials said they already had such agreements with other city-owned utilities before Hermine.

“I made phone calls and we’ve had conference calls to make sure people are talking to each other,” Scott said of the efforts to prepare for Hurricane Michael.

The Florida Municipal Electric Association said city-owned utilities are sending 240 workers from out of state to help restore power and another 150 are coming from inside the state.

“These crews leave their homes and families to work in challenging, sometimes dangerous, situations,” said Amy Zubaly, executive director of FMEA. “We will be forever grateful.”