OPPD crews headed to Florida to help restore power after Irma

Omaha Public Power District has sent crews to Florida to assist with restoring power in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

More than 40 OPPD linemen and contracted tree crews are making the trip, according to a news release.

Florida’s largest utility says that 2.8 million homes and businesses are without power throughout its service area as of Tuesday.

OPPD’s line team left Tuesday morning in 14 vehicles including pickup trucks and bucket trucks. The teams — which typically serve such Nebraska areas as Omaha, Blair and Syracuse — met in Rockport, Missouri, formed a caravan and are headed south. OPPD said its crew are expected to arrive in Florida on Thursday.

They will be working with Tampa Electric Company to determine where help is most-needed, OPPD said.

OPPD said its mutual aid efforts typically are limited to within 500 miles of its service territory, but exceptions made for certain catastrophic events.

“The impacted utilities need all the help they can get right now. We are glad to lend our people and their talents to assist with this massive recovery effort,” OPPD official Mo Doghman said in a written statement.

This effort is coordinated by the Midwest Mutual Assistance Group, according to OPPD. Under mutual aid agreements, all costs incurred by companies that provide support are reimbursed by utilities receiving help.

Other utilities from Nebraska last week announced they were sending crews to Florida, including Lincoln Electric System and Nebraska Public Power District.