Alabama Power crews and contractors are on their way to help residents of coastal Georgia as Hurricane Ian tears a path of devastation from southwest Florida toward the Carolinas.
Hurricane Ian made its initial landfall at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Cayo Costa, Florida, as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph. The storm has already caused catastrophic damage, with a record-setting storm surge in southwest Florida and extensive flooding across the Sunshine State. Nearly 17 inches of rain was reported in Lake Wales, about 60 miles east of Tampa; more than 2.6 million people were without power in Florida Thursday afternoon.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Ian had been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved deeper into the open waters of the Atlantic, northeast of Palm Bay. The latest projected track had the storm strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane before curving more to the north and making landfall again between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, although that could change.
Alabama Power storm teams will be assisting Georgia Power in storm restoration efforts. Early this morning, 400 Alabama Power team members, including line personnel and support crews, left from multiple locations on their way to Georgia. The employees are being joined by 380 company contractors.
“We are glad to be able to help our sister company Georgia Power after this storm,” said Scott Moore, Alabama Power senior vice president of Power Delivery. “We understand the importance of industry support when we are working to get the lights back on for our customers following a significant weather event.”
Alabama Power and other investor-owned utilities have long participated in mutual assistance agreements, which provide an effective process for the company to support other utilities when disasters affect their customers. Alabama Power, in turn, has the ability to call on other utilities to support its restoration efforts when major storms strike in Alabama.
Alabama Power and other utilities are coordinating restoration efforts for Ian across the region through the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a nonprofit association.
“Through our mutual assistance agreements, we can deliver the type of service our customers know and trust to those in need following severe weather,” said Corey Sweeney, Alabama Power Storm Center Operations manager. “We take pride in supporting our fellow utilities and being there when they need us most.”
Ian is the fifth-strongest hurricane on record in the U.S., based on maximum sustained winds. The most powerful storm to hit the U.S. mainland was the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that blasted the Florida Keys and then traveled up the west coast of the state with 185 mph winds. It is followed in the record books by Camille in 1969 with winds of 175 mph, Andrew in 1992 with 165 mph winds and Michael in 2018 with winds of 160 mph.
Over the years, Alabama Power storm teams have traveled to help people as far away as Illinois, Texas and New Jersey following major storms. Alabama Power crews have experience working in a wide spectrum of conditions left behind by everything from tornadoes to hurricanes, ice storms to straight-line winds, which puts the company’s seasoned employees in high demand when disasters strike in other states. The company’s employees have been honored with multiple industry awards for their restoration and assistance work, in Alabama and beyond.
Learn more about Alabama Power’s storm operations; get safety tips for what to do before, during and after a storm; and find details about tools available to Alabama Power customers for staying informed when severe weather strikes by visiting Alabama Power’s online Storm Center.