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Sept. 6, 2004, Columbia, SC - With an estimated 5 million people without power as a result of Hurricane Frances, South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. will send 130 storm support personnel to Tampa Tuesday morning to assist with storm restoration efforts.
"It's the right thing to do," said Charles White, SCE&G's emergency response coordinator. "Florida has taken a pounding with this storm and Hurricane Charley. We know their crews are very capable, but they also have been working long hours and could use additional assistance. I think you'll see utilities from around the Southeast rallying around Florida to help them in their restoration efforts.
One contingent of SCE&G crews will leave Columbia at 6 a.m. Tuesday, with a second contingent pulling out of Ridgeland at the same time. SCE&G's storm response crews are fully "self contained" and include every kind of resource storm personnel will need, from fleet support to food and security. An advance crew is being sent today to assess conditions and the viability of fuel and accommodations.
Tampa Electric has reported that it has 2,500 of its own storm support workers, but will be joined by 3,000 additional workers from utilities outside of the state.
"Many people don't realize what a challenge storm response can be when you're going into an area that has been heavily damaged. Making sure your employees remain safe under the hazardous conditions is certainly the top priority," White explained.
"Then you have to plan meals and have the support personnel necessary to keep vehicles fueled and ready to go; changing tires becomes a challenge because of the nails and other debris in the roadways. It's a full time operation."
White said that SCE&G is eager to support the people in Florida, but he points out that the company will be keeping a close eye on Hurricane Ivan.
We've got to keep the interest of our customers in mind, too," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to support Florida restoration efforts until all the lights are back on and they tell us to go home. But if Ivan looks like he's going to be a threat to South Carolina and the customers we serve, then we may have to reassess."
SCE&G is the largest subsidiary of SCANA Corp., an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations, telecommunications and other energy-related businesses.