CHICAGO (CBS) — Caravans of ComEd crews are headed to Florida to provide assistance and power restoration to those impacted by Hurricane Irma.
145 employees received a safety briefing Sunday morning and then boarded their trucks at the utility’s University Park location.
Many of these technicians have volunteered previously to go into storm-ravaged areas to restore power, such as those affected from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.
ComEd Senior Vice President Fidel Marquez says their 700 employees are joining a force of about 11,000 utility workers from across the country to help turn the lights back on.
He says crews will spend the night Sunday in Nashville and get back on the road Monday, heading to where Duke Electric and Florida Light and Power direct them.
It’s not clear as of yet where that will be, Marquez says, as they have to wait for Irma to pass through and assess the damage.
The 200 crews are more than just linesmen and technicians. ComEd is also sending contractors and in-house employees who work in fleet management, logistics, supplies and security.
Larry White says he’s anxious, nervous and excited to get there and get to work.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go and help individuals that are going through a hard time right now, and hopefully turn their lights on and bring back, at least, small conveniences,” White said.
He has prior hurricane experience and says he’ll rely on his training to make sure he’s working safe around broken poles, downed trees and live wires.
They are expected to be working in Florida for at least two weeks.
Marquez says this is expected to be the largest restoration project ever, with more than two million people without power as of Sunday afternoon. Crews may have to completely rebuild lines from the ground up.