More than a dozen utilities from around Minnesota have sent power crews to Florida to help with the potential aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The storm battered the Bahamas Monday with wind speeds of over 180 mph, making it one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded. The hurricane is now moving along Florida’s coast as a weaker Category 2 storm.
The Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association said it received a call last week from the Kissimmee Utility Authority asking for help. Rochester Public Utilities communications manager Tony Benson said his utility and crews from 15 other city-based utilities headed to Florida in a convoy over the weekend.
“If the hurricane hits another part of the state, or even a different state, the Minnesota crews could be brought to another area,” Benson said.
The assistance includes line crews and bucket trucks, as well as a fleet mechanic and service vehicle to make sure crews and equipment can keep operating. Benson says out-of-state crews get safety and operations briefings, and are often accompanied by a local worker to help navigate local systems and infrastructure.
Municipal utility crews were in Florida as recently as 2017 to help with the recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, and went to Long Island to help after Hurricane Sandy hit the New York-New Jersey area in 2012.
Benson said local power providers called on other utilities for help as recently as this summer, when storms knocked out power in Rochester. Crews from around southern Minnesota responded with mutual aid.