By Andrea Menniti and Mayra Tostado
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — For the more than 100 PG&E linemen working to bring a slice of normalcy to the millions of Floridians recovering from Hurricane Irma, the job of restoring power is second nature.
But here in south Florida, some 3,000 miles away from the West Coast, Mother Nature’s elements are anything but familiar.
Crews from Bakersfield braved the elements as they patrolled a stretch of power line right in the middle of a swamp.
“We were warned about the hazards in there, things that we aren’t used to back in Bakersfield, like water snakes and alligators, so we have a sharp eye out for that and carried shovels with us,” said lineman Tim Moore.
Thankfully, they didn’t spot any gators but the hazards are real and that’s why PG&E stresses employee safety each day.
Said Tyler Gayski, a Sacramento-based safety specialist, “It’s a conversation we’ve been having daily with the teams.”
In all, about 125 PG&E IBEW Local 1245 line workers, equipment operators, supervisors and support personnel are helping Florida Power & Light (FPL) respond to the havoc caused by Irma. FPL and PG&E have a mutual-aid agreement. In Irma’s aftermath, FPL reported some 4.4 million of its customers lost power.
Besides unusual wildlife, the PG&E crews are also working in high humidity and sweltering heat.
“We are pounding the water,” said Paso Robles foreman Jose Tirado. “It’s an experience for me having to deal with this much humidity.”
It’s all in a day’s work as these crews continue their mission of helping those in need.
“It’s worth it to have to go through a little bit of uncomfortable situations,” Moore said. “There are people here without power and they are in uncomfortable situations and it’s our job to get that power back on.”
(Click here to read all of the coverage of PG&E’s response to Hurricane Irma in Florida.)
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.