Internet, utility providers begin preparations for Idalia’s landfall

by | Aug 28, 2023


  • Tropical Storm (and likely soon-to-be major hurricane) Idalia is heading towards Florida’s Gulf Coast, prompting major service providers Verizon and Duke Energy to take proactive measures to maintain uninterrupted services and power supply.
  • Verizon is preparing its network by utilizing backup systems, portable assets like generators, drones, and satellite-based network assets to address potential damages and outages caused by the storm.
  • Florida Power and Light is mobilizing its restoration workforce for post-storm recovery efforts while coordinating with emergency operations centers statewide. The provider also cautioned Floridians to expect widespread outages early next week.
  • Meanwhile, Duke Energy has readied resources including technicians, vegetation workers, and damage assessors, while state officials are coordinating utility linemen and National Guardsmen for power restoration and recovery efforts.

As Tropical Storm Idalia, projected to be a major hurricane when it makes landfall, barrels towards Florida’s Gulf Coast, major service providers Verizon, Florida Power and Light (FPL), and Duke Energy are taking proactive steps to ensure uninterrupted services and power supply, while state officials are arranging for thousands of utility linesmen to sit on standby to assist with power restoration.

With the storm expected to cause damage from strong winds and flooding, Verizon’s network team is making necessary preparations. While backup systems like batteries and generators are in place to mitigate power loss at critical sites, the company acknowledges the unpredictable nature of severe weather.

To address potential network recovery needs, Verizon has mobilized a range of portable assets, including generator-powered cell sites to enhance network coverage, drones, fixed-wing aircraft for aerial support, and satellite-based portable network assets to address fiber cable loss. The company also has portable generators and a comprehensive refueling plan to maintain network operations during power outages.

“The Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team stands ready to deploy in support of public safety agencies — at no cost to the supported agencies — to ensure they have the mission-critical communications support they need when responding to severe weather and other crisis events,” the company said on Monday.

FPL, the state’s largest power utility, announced Monday afternoon that it has mobilized its restoration workforce and is coordinating with county and state emergency operations centers. The provider informed customers to expect widespread power outages and potential storm surges in coastal regions.

“While Tropical Storm Idalia’s ultimate intensity and forecast track remain uncertain, we are prepared for whatever this system brings our way and we are ready to meet this challenge,” said FPL President and CEO Armando Pimentel. “We will quickly continue working as soon as it is safe to do so and won’t stop until every customer is restored. Please take the time now to ensure you and your family are prepared.”

Meanwhile, Duke Energy is also taking proactive measures ahead of Idalia. With potential weather impacts looming, the company has readied approximately 4,500 resources, including power line technicians, vegetation workers, and damage assessors to address potential outages that may occur as the storm makes landfall.

Duke has also made available its midwest operations, along with utility partners across the state and Southeast, to assist with power restoration once weather conditions permit.

“Duke Energy is actively monitoring Idalia’s path, intensity, and timing, and staging resources in safe locations to respond to outages as soon as it’s safe to do so,” said Todd Fountain, Duke Energy Florida storm director. “As we prepare to respond, it’s important our customers take this storm seriously and ensure their homes and families are prepared.”

During a media on Monday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis also disclosed that the state is ordering individual counties to engage in preparative efforts and that there will be evacuation orders issued in the coming days. For the time being, DeSantis is disengaging with presidential campaign activity to remain in-state to direct post-storm measures.

“We are arranging for tens of thousands of utility linemen to be pre-staged so they can help with power restoration once the storm hits,” said the governor. “We also have mobilized 5,500 National Guardsmen who are going to be there to be able to assist with both preparation and recovery efforts.”

DeSantis also mobilized 1,100 members of the Florida National Guard and lifted truck weight limits to facilitate quicker recovery.

According to the latest briefing from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, as of 8:00 AM EDT on Monday, Idalia was located about 90 miles south of the western tip of Cuba. The storm is forecast to pass near or over western Cuba tonight, entering the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico by early Tuesday. The current prediction suggests that Idalia will make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Florida’s Gulf coast early Wednesday.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and is moving north at 8 mph. Idalia is anticipated to become a hurricane later today and is expected to intensify into a dangerous major hurricane by early Wednesday as it approaches Florida.

A Storm Surge Watch is currently in effect for the Florida coastline, extending from Chokoloskee to Indian Pass, including Tampa Bay. Likewise, a Hurricane Watch is in effect from Englewood to Indian Pass. The National Hurricane Center warns that life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds are becoming increasingly likely for portions of Florida.

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