FEMA recognize Clewiston Utilities with award

CLEWISTON — This past Saturday, the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) recognized Clewiston Utilities with a Restoring Communities Award for its efforts to quickly and safely restore power to Florida communities following Hurricane Michael. The awards, sponsored by ENCO Utility Services, were presented at the 19th Annual Florida Lineman Competition in Gainesville.

Recipients were honored for their work to restore power within their communities and for sending aid to their fellow public power communities. Utilities were awarded based on restoration times, customer communications efforts and the levels of mutual aid provided.

“For the third Atlantic hurricane season in a row, we have had to call upon mutual aid to assist Florida communities ravaged by hurricanes or have sent our crews to other states and territories that have suffered the same level of damage,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA’s executive director. “Each time, our communities have answered the call, leaving their homes and families to bring help to those who need it most.”

“We are proud to sponsor this award to recognize the utility men and women who respond to emergencies and work tirelessly to restore service even when it means working through very extreme weather conditions at all hours of the day and night,” said Ruby M. Irigoyen, senior vice president of ENCO Customer Services, ENCO Utility Services.

Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Panhandle region, caused widespread and significant damage to the power systems of five Florida public power communities — Tallahassee, Havana, Quincy, Chattahoochee and Blountstown. Tallahassee had more than 113,000, or 95 percent, of its customers out and lost nearly 60 percent of its transmission. Havana, Quincy, Chattahoochee and Blountstown were left 100 percent in the dark.

Several days before Hurricane Michael made landfall, FMEA activated the American Public Power Association mutual aid network and put out a long-range call for mutual aid assistance. More than 600 power restoration personnel from 16 states, including Florida, and more than 80 utilities came to help restore power and rebuild the electric grid in the affected communities.

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