Day 8 – Monday, September 18th Update

There are a few progress reports I’m pretty happy to share tonight. First our service territories in Glades County, including Lakeport and Brighton, as well as Okeechobee have been restored to 99%. That means there are just a few individual isolated outages the crews are cleaning up. We are now able to dedicate crews specifically to work on these outages rather than move on to more populated areas. Other crews are here to support those efforts. From here on out I will not be reporting on these areas.

I know those of you still out of power are still very frustrated and running low on patience. I hope you can understand the task of restoring our devastated service territory has been incredible. To go from 99% of our meters out of power to 25% out of power in only one week is an amazing feat. Crews deserve a great deal of recognition for rebuilding so much of our territory as quickly as they have. I know that doesn’t bring comfort to those of you still suffering, but please be aware that we are doing everything we can to help get your lives back to normal soon.

We continue to get a stream of new crews heading to our area. With so many extra crews out in the field, it’s beginning to get more difficult to keep track of each area. The employees I regularly get my updates from are spending more time in the field providing support to the new and existing crews. I will do my best to get you the information you need, but I might not always have an update on your specific neighborhood or street. I love that so many of you are sharing information with your neighbors on where crews are active in the field and that helps. Much of the time if a crew is in an area near you they will be heading your way soon. Remember, crews first work on main distribution lines coming from the substation and then feeder lines throughout your streets until they reach the end of the main distribution line.

As always, before I get into the territory review I would like to give a brief recap of Jeff’s daily message from earlier this evening: Hi members, we have had another really great day. We are now system wide at 75% restored. Glades County and Okeechobee County are just about wrapped up at over 99% restored. Our focus now is back to Highlands County and Hendry County where we are deploying our entire workforce. In the morning, we are going to have 265 outside men on our system. That’s nearly a 1,000% increase in our workforce over what we carry through the year. We really have a lot of manpower on the ground to get this job done by the weekend. I want to say thank you for Southern Pine Electric Co-op and Northeast Mississippi Electric Power Association. Their statewide associations were ready to bring them home in a couple of days and they have agreed to stay on and help us through the weekend. We really appreciate that very much. They have some astronomical equipment to get to the swampy place we now have on our system (more than usually swampy).

It really makes our plan work well for them to be able to keep them through the weekend. If we can, if we are there we are going to let them go back home Friday, but they want to stay here and help you all get the lights back on and they are going to do whatever it takes. When that last substation, Josephine, came back on we picked up over 2,587 accounts. Highlands County is now at 61% restored. We still have 2,862 to get restored. Hendry County is now at 70% restored and we still have 1,047 left out there. Last night I probably reported that at 75% complete, but we had 300 accounts were given to Hendry County and they are actually in Glades County. Right now 12,010 have been restored. We still have 3,930 remain to be restored. A lot of those will be restored tonight. Our guys are not giving up until about 11 pm. They want to get you back with a more comfortable, normal life. One thing. When you question the crews in the field, it really slows them down. Say hi, thank you to them, wave and then let them get back to work and get your lights on for you. One other thing, we heard today from Duke, the transmission line provider. They have another bad pole on the line that feeds Lorida. They were making plans to take Lorida out of commission so that they could repair that pole safely.

Our G&T, Seminole Electric, has been in touch with them all day trying to work this out. They now believe they have a resolution to do it while the line is hot and we don’t have to take that substation down. There’s nothing more aggravating than getting your power restored only to have it go out again. We’re still working on that. We’ll let you know for sure what Seminole and Duke have worked out on that arrangement. We will let you know on tomorrow night’s update.

On to my nightly wrap up. Again, I know there was a lot of work done today, but I couldn’t get full reports tonight from our crews in the south. I’ll do my best to provide a more detailed wrap up at some point tomorrow. I was able to get some more detailed information from our north crews where quite a bit of activity continues to happen.

Crews were working on poles and trees in Big Cypress Reservation while they continue to finish up the main distribution line into that community. I don’t have a specific update about Uncle Joe’s Fish Camp, but a member commented they saw a crew working on trees and poles in the area so progress is being made. The substation has received service and is working on the main distribution line heading that way. The RV park in Clewiston (Johnson’s) is up.

A new crew, DELCO from Baton Rouge, arrived early this afternoon and didn’t stop to rest. They immediately went to 835 to start working and will stay in that area until complete. We had a crew in Collin Slough today as well. Tree crews were in the Wayman Road area getting it ready for line crews.

You all know it’s been painfully slow progress in Venus. Reinforcements have been sent to this area so extra crews are helping out to get this area restored more quickly. Detjens Dairy Road is on and crews will return here tomorrow. Quarters Road had tree crews today and another crew is scheduled for tomorrow. Almost everyone along SR 8 has power. Venus is an area where some of our new crews coming in will be sent. Gould Road and Horn Road are on. L7 is on up to the front house. They will keep working in the back.

Lorida has been another area where progress has been painfully slow. There are still 2 devices out in Lorida that are impacting quite a few members. They keep working to clear the lines and get things restored. Bluff Hammock Road is on except a property we couldn’t access. Scrub Pen is on except Barney Road, but there may be some isolated outages here. Arbuckle Branch and Cowhouse are both on.

For those of you on Afton Road, I apologize if I gave you false hope. The crews that were heading your way have run into more problems than expected. Mike, the foreman, assured me they would be working that way tomorrow, but I don’t blame you if you need to see it to believe it. (I feel horrible about this one for whatever it’s worth). This is another area where new crews will be sent to assist the crews already working there.

We will also be sending more of the new crews to the Lake Josephine area to increase our efforts there. While I was in our operations center tonight the crews were energizing lines around Atkins, Arbor, Sharon, Rosemary, but were expecting a great deal of isolated outages here. They were continuing to work on those individual taps as I left to work on this report. The line going up 27 is up, the store and church on 27 are both hot. Leona and Moreno are up with some isolation. Arcola is up. They are working on Payne Road and continue up 66 tonight. I’m really hoping to get some “we got power!” messages from these tonight, but it was hard to tell as of this report. They are also working on Skipper Road tonight and plan to go to Henscratch tomorrow. The crews want to try to get to Lake Francis tomorrow, but there are a lot of poles and trees damaged in this area.

Crews will continue working in the area of Driggers Road and Dartmoor tomorrow. Holmes Road and Halmark Road are up. They will be working on Lakeside Village North tomorrow, special equipment is needed here to access back lots. Henderson’s Fish Camp is on.

My nightly gratitude goes out to some amazing groups of people. The Okeechobee Health Department donated cases of bug spray to help our crews deal with the bugs in the field. Groups from the IAFF Local 2918 and the Highlands County Cattlewomen both came out and cooked food for some of the north crews in the field today. The teachers of Moore Haven Elementary took up a collection and donated new socks, sunscreen, chapstick, bug spray, and granola bars to the crews at our south staging area. They even had the kids sign thank you cards and banners for the crews to read when they came back in tonight for dinner! To all of you and all of the people I didn’t mention but help our crews out in such amazing ways, a big huge THANK YOU from me and all of us at GEC. I’m sending out some great big virtual hugs to all of you tonight! As always, stay safe, keep away from downed lines, use generators responsibly, and drink plenty of water. Wishing you as much peace as you can find tonight. Hang in there if you are still without power tonight. We are in the “days” window. -Denise