SUMMIT, NJ - Ronald Moore was busy getting his vehicle ready for the long drive down to Florida. He was organizing provisions, checking to make sure he had everything, and even wiping down the windows. It was 5:15 in the morning, and he was anxious to get on the road so he could reach his destination.
In some ways, he was like a paternal figure, preparing for a family trip. But Moore, a resident of Union, wasn't 'going to Disneyland'.
No, this excursion would be no vacation.
That's because he and five other Summit-based Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) linemen -- along with 39 others who were departing from various New Jersey locations -- were heading down to the Sunshine State in an effort to help restore power to the millions of Floridians still without it due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma.
"i am sure we will face some difficult times and adverse circumstances," said Moore, a JCP&L Summit Line Supervisor who also performed similar duties after Hurricane Andrew in 2005. "But we are going for a purpose, and we will do whatever it takes to get folks their power back -- if that means crawling through jungle-like conditions, that's what we'll do. It feels going helping others and to do good work."
When Moore and the other New Jersey-based JCP&L crew arrive in in Florida, they will join 77 colleagues who are already down there.
The JCP&L contingent will live for two weeks in a makeshift village, sort of a 'tent city', that has been set up at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. Basic food and necessities are brought in to the 'pop-up town', and Moore and his fellow workers -- when they do get a chance to rest -- will sleep on cots.
Jersey Central Power & Light's parent company, FirstEnergy Corporation, is sending additional linemen and support personnel from its utility utility facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Maryland to help utilities in Florida with restoration efforts following large-scale power outages. They will join other FirstEnergy employees that traveled to Florida late last week and are now working in the field to restore power to customers. Overall, more than 630 FirstEnergy employees are assisting with the restoration effort, along with a full contingent of tree trimmers and electrical contractors who have working relationships with FirstEnergy.
All 10 of FirstEnergy’s utilities are part of the mutual assistance effort, which includes crews from Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company, and Toledo Edison in Ohio; Penelec, Penn Power, West Penn Power and Met-Ed in Pennsylvania; Mon Power in West Virginia; Potomac Edison in West Virginia and Maryland; and Jersey Central Power & Light in New Jersey. Support personnel from FirstEnergy’s corporate offices also are included in the company’s contingent.
“The aftermath of Hurricane Irma has resulted in one of the largest power outages our nation has ever experienced and FirstEnergy personnel are glad to be able to help those Florida customers in need,” said Steven Strah, senior vice president and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. “Many of our linemen have been to Florida in the past to assist following other hurricanes, so they know firsthand the challenging working conditions that they will be facing over the next week as they safely restore power.”
FirstEnergy will have personnel in place to continue to maintain reliable operations for its customers in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland, while also assisting those in need in Florida.
FirstEnergy is a member of multiple electric utility mutual-assistance groups that work cooperatively to restore service to customers when a natural disaster causes large- scale power outages. Mutual assistance allows utilities to pool their resources to help restore power to customers faster. In the past, FirstEnergy and its employees have been honored by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) with its “Emergency Assistance Award” for the mutual assistance the company has provided during winter and summer storms.