LCEC Prepared for Hurricane Irma
Special to the Lehigh Acres Gazette
LCEC’s preparation began long before Hurricane Irma threatened to make landfall in Southwest Florida. To ensure LCEC has the resources needed for restoration, the utility relies on relationships that have been cultivated over the years with a power line and tree-trimming contractors, fuel companies, material vendors, food service vendors, other cooperatives and local agencies. Out-of-town crews will begin to arrive throughout the day tomorrow.
In addition, more than 375 LCEC employees play a critical role in the restoration plan. Employees put their typical job responsibilities on hold to pitch in during restoration. Employees focus on coordinating out-of-town crews, delivery of materials, damage assessment, and restoration. Other employees become food and water delivery experts for crews who often don’t have time to stop and grab a bite to eat. Some employees even organize laundry service so that crew’s working days on end to restore power in some of the most treacherous areas of Southwest Florida have clean clothes to wear.
LCEC has a detailed restoration plan that outlines priorities for electric restoration during large power outages. LCEC’s plan first calls for the restoration of essential services such as hospitals, traffic signals, shelters, law enforcement. Next, power is restored to the largest number of customers. The last to be restored are individual services or services that need to be reconnected after repair to the home electrical system.
LCEC does not disconnect power before a storm. Mother Nature runs her course to knock power out, and LCEC begins to restore power to impacted areas once winds are at a safe level.
What to do when the lights go out
• Help keep LCEC telephone lines clear for emergency calls. Only call LCEC at 656-2300 to report downed power lines.
• Visually check the weather-head (on the roof where your service drop connects to the pole) and the meter box to make sure it is not damaged.
• Any damage to the home or business electric system must be repaired by a licensed electrician and inspected by a designated agency before power can be restored.
• Turn off appliances. This will protect them when service is restored, prevent electrical fires and lessen the chances of circuit overload when service is restored. You may leave one light on to serve as a visual signal that power has been restored.
Storm Safety Tips
• Stay clear of downed power lines. They may still be energized and dangerous. Puddles of water contacting downed lines are just as dangerous.
• Don’t trim trees or remove debris located near downed power lines. If you must remove debris, don’t pile it under or near electrical lines or equipment.
• Residents on life support need to have an alternate plan in place to ensure the continuity of any life-support needs. This may include making special arrangements to spend time with a friend or relative during an outage or using a backup generator.
• If operating a portable generator, keep it outside and in an open area. Carbon monoxide emissions can be harmful. Follow all instructions regarding the safe operation. Do not connect the generator directly to your main electrical panel. If installed incorrectly, power could flow into outside lines and injure you, your neighbors or utility crews working in the area.
• Avoid detaining LCEC employees or contractors while they are working to restore power. This can be distracting, can cause an accident and impedes the process.