Duke Energy crews deployed to restore power post-Irma

By Meliss Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 9:16 PM EDT

Duke Energy crews and hundreds of contracted crews from around the country and Canada deployed in Pinellas County on Sept. 12 to help restore power following Hurricane Irma

  • Crews working 16-hour days
  • About 400,000 people working on restoring power
  • Power restored to 375,000 customers in Florida so far

St. Petersburg resident Ernestine Matson was excited to see crews in her neighborhood on Catalonia Way that morning.

"I was happy about it," Matson said. "Glad they're out here working."

Crews are working 16-hour shifts to restore power to some 400,000 people across the county. Linemen like Dave Nelms wants customers to know that storm restoration is a lengthy process.

"The first thing we want to get on is the feeders, which are the backbone of the power," Nelms said. "And once we get those done, then we go back through and have damage assessment people come through and look at what needs to be fixed, the priority areas that need work the most, and then we start there and work our way down."

Nelms's crew and others from across the state are dispatched from Duke's distribution control center. Personnel at that center are busy, as one million Floridians are still without power statewide.

The good news, though, is that power has been restored to 375,000 customers just two days after Irma's devastating trip through the state.

Out-of-state crews working to help restore power have some help already out in the field. Some 500 trucks were deployed ahead of Irma's arrival.

"I've gone out of town to help other areas before, and they come here when something like this happens," Nelms said. "We all come together and get it fixed as fast and safely as possible."

Matson told us she already knows what she'll do when her power is restored.

"Take a shower," Matson said, laughing. "Clean up."