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Tampa Bay electric companies fast track fixes ahead of Hurricane Dorian

Posted at 4:49 PM, Aug 29, 2019

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Our local power companies are fast-tracking fixes and working hard to make sure our electrical equipment is ready to take on Hurricane Dorian.

ABC Action News spent the day with Duke Energy crews Thursday as they focused on fixing up power lines, utility poles and power substations. Crews are working around the clock to make sure the equipment you rely on is ready for the storm.

It's something Darren Yokopenic is taking seriously. During his lunch break, he stopped by Home Depot to buy bottled water and a portable air conditioner.

"It will be for one room but at least it will keep us somewhat cool for an extended time if we go out of power,” he explained.

HURRICANE CENTER | ABC Action News Hurricane Center

Duke Energy crews are working hard to make sure our infrastructure is ready too.

“We say our lineman are our heroes because they work 24/7 to make sure the lights stay on," Ana Gibbs, spokesperson for Duke Energy explained.

Duke says their system is much more equipped to handle a widespread storm than it was two years ago during Hurricane Irma, after spending billions of dollars installing new technology that reroutes power during an outage. As well as fixing and replacing power lines, polls and substations.

“We call it storm hardening. Obviously installing a new poll makes it stronger in case a storm does hit,” Gibbs explained.

Last year, Duke Energy inspected more than 100,000 of its 800,000 wooden distribution poles. Of those, they treated and repaired 70,000 and replaced 2,300 poles.

But despite all that work, local electric companies tell us if Hurricane Dorian makes landfall as a category 4, a large portion of Tampa Bay will lose power.

“A category 4 storm is so strong that it would impact our system, which means that they should prepare for an outage that could be several days,” Gibbs elaborated.

If you do lose power, you can call or text your electricity provider. Linemen have to wait until after the dangerous part of the storm passes to start making fixes. Hospitals, fire stations and grids that serve the most homes get first priority.

During a hurricane press conference Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis says Florida Power and Light will be mobilizing teams from the Southeast U.S. to help in the aftermath of the hurricane in Florida. Duke Energy has crews on standby in the Midwest and the Carolinas ready to travel to Florida to help us during Hurricane Dorian.

Power companies want to hear from you if your electricity goes out. Duke Energy customers can text "OUT" to 57801. Tampa Electric Customers can text "OUT" to 35069.