BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - South Florida has escaped Irene’s wrath; however, our neighbors to the north may not be so fortunate. As the storm spirals its way up the East Coast, dozens of support crews from Florida Power and Light are on their way to help the recovery efforts.
Florida Power and Light workers are heading out on a one thousand mile journey to help after Hurricane Irene. They gathered this morning at FPL's site in Boynton Beach for instructions before hitting the road. The crews will be gone for at least a week.
"We'll be up there soon if you're up there in Baltimore. We're coming your way," said FPL senior linesman Nick Perrone.
Perrone is one of a hundred FPL workers who volunteered to make the trip to Maryland. Since power outages and downed lines are common with hurricanes, they'll assist local utility crews getting power restored after Irene as quickly as possible.
"The way that storm is moving so slow now, there will probably be a lot of trees and wires coming down," Perrone said.
Khristal Hunter, who is just 22, is one of the youngest members of the recovery team and the only female line specialist going. She's eager to help.
“It feels good,” she explained. “That's the main reason. Help out people and get their power back on as quickly as possible."
Volunteers will repair downed wires, utility poles and power grids. Many of these workers helped after tornadoes devastated Alabama this spring and when Hurricane Ike blew through Texas in 2008. Vic Arena has made at least a dozen such trips. He says it brings a great sense of satisfaction.
"It's really great when you pull down a street and you're pulling out and people have power,” he said. “You just see it in their eyes. It just makes the trip worthwhile."
FPL is able to send volunteers because Florida is no longer in the path of the storm. They know, if Florida is hit by a storm, the companies they’re helping will be heading to South Florida to help the recovery here.
"When we have a hurricane, they always come to help us,” said Arena. “Now it's our turn to pay back."
Since Irene has missed South Florida, these workers are thankful they’re in a position to return the favor.