Region's power companies monitoring Erika closely

- Florida Power and Light tells FOX 35 that they will have 7,000 utility workers ready by Sunday night to respond to any power outages caused by Tropical Storm Erika, if needed.  Crews in Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties, among others, are gearing up this weekend in case Erika packs a tough punch. 

Orlando Utilities Commission is getting its utility trucks ready to roll in case Erika brings down power lines early next week.  OUC spokesman Tim Trudell says, “We’ll get out there, we’ll fix it safely, we’ll fix it quickly, but we also have to make sure the winds die down, and we can get out there and do it right.” Trudell says OUC has additional crews on standby this weekend.  If there are widespread outages, crews know where they have to focus first. Trudell says, “We’ll look at some of those critical areas first- hospitals, fire stations, police stations- those main arteries that society really relies on.”  OUC held a big conference call Friday afternoon to coordinate its planned response.  Managers are tracking the storm’s path, and they should know by Sunday night where to position their people if needed.

The Kissimmee Utility Authority serves 67,000 customers in Osceola County. KUA launched its emergency operations plan Friday.  The utility is watching to see how much rain Erika will drop because many of its cables are buried. Chris Gent, spokesman for KUA, says, “When we get water, it floods those underground infrastructures, and we have to cut power off to those customers.” Gent says heavy rains can cause problems when strong storms plow through. He adds, “If the ground gets really saturated, the trees start going over and they pull up the underground wires with them.”

FPL recommends you keep a battery-operated radio and extra batteries on hand during the storm.  If there are downed power lines at night, don’t  go outside because you might not see them in the dark, and you could get shocked. 

Stay tuned to FOX 35 News throughout the weekend for full coverage on Erika.

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