SECO Energy, a not-for-profit electric cooperative, has enacted its emergency restoration plan and organized its employees and hundreds of line and tree trimming contractors who are waiting and ready for Hurricane Irma to impact SECO this afternoon through Monday. Hundreds of bucket trucks, front-end loaders, cranes, and other heavy equipment are already assembled at SECO.
Hurricane-force winds are expected throughout SECO’s service territory as Hurricane Irma veers north into Florida’s west coast. At noon Sunday, Hurricane Irma was clocked as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and moving north-northwest at 9 mph. Irma is a huge storm, with hurricane-force winds extending 70 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds extending 205 miles from its center.
Irma is currently forecast to move along Florida’s west coast, making final landfall near Cedar Key mid-morning on Monday. Hurricane-force sustained wind speeds over 100 mph will begin to impact SECO’s territory late Sunday night and continue through Monday morning.
As this giant storm is moving closer to Florida, SECO is warning members to expect extended outages. SECO’s distribution system is built to withstand 100 mph winds, and the state’s transmission system is built to withstand 110 mph winds. Hurricane-force winds will put poles, lines and substation equipment on the ground. Thousands of SECO members will be without power – even those served by underground equipment as their service is fed by overhead transmission lines. Full restoration from Hurricane Irma may take days or even weeks.
Later Sunday afternoon when winds exceed 35 mph in SECO territory, restoration efforts must be stopped for safety. SECO won’t be able to conduct restoration activity until winds subside Monday afternoon. Once safe, SECO employees and hundreds of line and tree contractors will converge throughout the service territory to conduct restoration according to the emergency plan.
Essential services such as hospitals, shelters, schools and government agencies are the highest restoration priority. Line repairs that will restore power to large groups of members are next, and less populated areas with individual electric services are the final part of restoration.
Floridians can access www.floridadisaster.org/shelters for shelter information by county, including general population shelters, pet-friendly shelters and special needs shelters. Seek shelter if you or your loved ones need power to run life-saving medical devices.
Prepare to hunker down and wait for Hurricane Irma to exit the state. 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. Do not tamper with a meter to connect a generator as this requires a licensed electrician. Safety tips and storm preparation tips are available on SECO’s website.
Members with smartphones and tablets should bookmark SECO’s Storm Center for easy outage reporting and updates. To avoid scams and dangers, do not accept restoration or tree trimming 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.