SECO Energy enacted its full emergency restoration plan late Friday afternoon in preparation for Hurricane Irma. The not-for-profit electric cooperative is preparing its members, employees and hundreds of line and tree trimming contractors for the hurricane to pound SECO’s service area.
Currently, Hurricane Irma remains a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 160 miles per hour. Irma’s center is located about 275 miles south-southeast of Miami, and it’s moving west at 12 miles per hour. Hurricane-force winds extend outward 70 miles from the center, with tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles outward from the center.
Irma will turn northwest later today through Sunday morning, and is expected to make landfall first in the middle to upper Keys very early Sunday morning and then make another landfall near Naples Sunday afternoon. The track is shifting slightly to the west and when it makes landfall Hurricane Irma will be a Category 5 or high-end Category 4. Hurricane Irma will trek north-northwest Sunday afternoon and evening along or near Florida’s west coast picking up speed and gradually weakening before entering Central Florida.
Because Hurricane Irma strengthened back to a Category 5 early this morning, it will take time for it to weaken below hurricane strength. In addition, the slight westward shift in track means Irma will be over water for a longer period of time. For those reasons, we are now forecasting hurricane-force winds (up to 80 mph) over SECO service territory beginning late Sunday night and lasting through early Monday morning. Winds will likely decrease late Monday morning to below tropical-storm force early Monday afternoon. SECO’s area will be inundated with rain before, during and after Irma’s approach. There is also a chance of tornadoes within Irma’s feeder bands on Sunday. Hurricane Irma’s track will probably make slight shifts until it reaches Florida and makes landfall.
SECO employees and hundreds of line and tree contractors from across the nation will focus on power restoration throughout the duration of the event. Hundreds of bucket trucks, front loaders, cranes, and other heavy equipment is being assembled at SECO locations. When winds exceed 35 mph, restoration efforts are curtailed due to safety. It is possible with the hurricane timing and intensity that SECO won’t be able to conduct restoration activity beginning Saturday night until winds subside on Monday. SECO members should expect power to be off for an extended period of time due to hurricane-force winds.
SECO’s employees are Storm Ready and waiting to respond to outages spawned by Hurricane Irma. SECO is prepared for inclement weather and reminds members that it is best to be informed and prepared.
Have your emergency supplies including food, water, batteries, a radio, etc. in a safe place. If you are using a portable or backup generator during outages, never let the generator run in enclosed spaces. Generators emit carbon monoxide gas that is a silent, odorless killer. Ensure these are connected correctly. Visit SECO’s website for storm preparation tips and view an emergency checklist.
Floridians can access www.floridadisaster.org/shelters for shelter information by county, including general population shelters, pet-friendly shelters and special needs shelters. Please seek shelter if you or your loved ones need power to run life-saving medical devices.
Members with smartphones and tablets should bookmark SECO’s Storm Center for easy outage reporting and updates. SECO’s emergency restoration plan determines the system’s restoration priority of each affected feeder. Essential services such as hospitals, shelters, schools and government agencies are the highest priority. Line repairs that will restore power to large groups of members are next, and then individual electric services in less populated areas. To avoid scams and dangers, do not accept restoration assistance from someone who is asking for payment on the spot and is not a SECO employee or contractor. Under no circumstances would SECO ask for payment in the field during a restoration event. Do not attempt to reconnect services yourself.
As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, SECO is dedicated to being our members’ first source for accurate storm information. “Like” SECO’s Facebook page and “follow” the company on Twitter to stay updated about storms affecting our area.