As Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall, utility companies across the state remain on standby for power outages.
On Wednesday, a weakened Elsa made landfall, pelting western Florida while dumping heavy rainfall across northern Florida and much of the Gulf Coast. While several tornado warnings were issued across many northern counties, much of the Sunshine State was spared.
In a morning press conference, Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters that no major structural damage or deaths from the storm had been reported.
“Clearly, this could have been worse,” DeSantis said, noting that many storm-related deaths come after the system passes. “Be very careful when you’re working to clear debris.”
While Tropical Storm Elsa continues to spread across the state, electric companies are continuing to monitor the storm, saying they’re ready to respond to its impacts.
Days prior, Florida Power & Light (FPL) and other companies statewide activated their emergency response plan for Tropical Storm Elsa. The preparations have already paid dividends, as FPL have begun restoring service safely to customers affected by Elsa.
“After preparing extensively throughout the holiday weekend for Tropical Storm Elsa, our restoration workforce is responding to outages as they occur and following the path of the storm,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “These brave men and women will continue to work in between bands of severe weather as long as it is safe to do so, and they won’t stop until everyone’s lights are back on. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to be in the direct path of the storm to be affected, so don’t fall into the trap of fixating on the storm’s forecast cone. Elsa’s outer bands of severe weather can cause trees, vegetation and flying debris to fall or blow into power lines and create restoration challenges.”
FPL says they have more than 7,000 personnel dedicated to the effort, including personnel that came from out of state to help speed restoration.
Duke Energy Florida also has boots on the ground as a contingency plan. The company’s storm center has been activated and about 3,000 Duke Energy crew members, contractors, tree specialists and other personnel are being staged from Pinellas County to north Florida. Duke Energy has brought in additional line workers and support personnel from its service territories in the Carolinas, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Duke Energy, who serves almost two million customers in Florida, also has meteorologists tracking Elsa as it makes its way to Georgia and the Carolinas.
“At Duke Energy, safety always comes first. We actively care about the safety of our customers, crews and employees during and after every storm event,” said Todd Fountain, Duke Energy’s Florida storm director. “We’re trained and prepared, and we want to ensure our customers are safe and prepared for any impacts from the storm.”
Additionally, Tampa Electric (TECO) has taken measures to respond to any outages. The company released a detailed storm-plan for customers and have arranged extra line crews and tree trimmers to help.
“Our crews are ensuring their trucks are fully stocked and they have appropriate supplies and equipment. We have about 100 additional line crews (from Texas and Louisiana) to help, if needed,” said TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs.
According to forecasters, Elsa is moving north at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds at 65 mph. Over 18,000 utility customers in Florida remain without power, according to utility tracker PowerOutage.us.