PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Florida Power & Light is gearing up for anticipated power outages these next few days as Nicole moves its way closer to our area.
FPL Spokesperson Bryan Garner told NewsChannel 5 that one of the company's biggest concerns is trees weakened by Hurricane Ian.
"There’s saturated ground, a lot of weakened trees. These can blow into our lines and create power outages so we want to prepare for that now," said Garner. "Trees blowing into our lines is one of the leading causes of outages.”
To prepare, FPL crews are trimming trees ahead of time and clearing debris.
"To try to minimize that impact," said Garner.
FPL is also calling in extra staff from across the state of Florida to help out, with the exception of Fort Meyers. Garner said crews already stationed there will continue the recovery efforts.
"We're gonna have thousands of men and women working around the clock," said Garner.
FPL is also setting up staging areas to send crews to areas expected to be hit hardest.
"We’re starting to decide where to deploy those crews," said Garner.
Garner expects the deployment plan to be finalized tomorrow.
He also said there is good news. Nearly 50% of the light poles you see in your neighborhood are now underground or concrete, making them more resilient.
"No grid is hurricane-proof. We have a very resilient grid but we ask our customers to be prepared for outages," said Garner.
It's a comforting message for Matt Barnacle and his Jupiter Farms family.
"I'm much more comfortable knowing they're doing things like that to get ready," said Barnacle.
Barnacle and his nephews loaded up on gallons of water Monday ahead of the storm, a preparation routine they're no stranger to.
"After you’ve been through a few, you get used to it," said Barnacle. "We’ve been without power and usually stores get shut down, so we like to have enough supplies on hand."
Barnacle said his power usually goes out during about 50% of storms that hit South Florida and said he was worried about another outage this time around.
“I know it can be an issue here with the tall trees,” said Barnacle.
While Barnacle said he is comforted by FPL's preparations, he and his family will continue to prepare on their own.
“Just putting the shutters up," said Barnacle, "A category one, it’s probably a good idea, [WPTV Meteorologist] Steve Weagle recommended it so, yeah, we’ll get ready for that."
Garner also recommended residents prepare their homes. One of the ways you can get ready to clean up lying branches in or around your yard. Garner said even branches on the ground can be carried by high winds and can create power outages, as well as pose a threat to crews responding.
Garner recommended residents know their debris cleanup times and prepare any home generators, as well as stock up on nonperishables, water, and other needed items in case of a power outage.
Crews will also be deploying drones to more safely, quickly, and easily identify power outage areas.