Missouri utility workers head out to Florida for anticipated Hurricane Idalia relief
This story has been updated to reflect new information about the crew.
The Florida Municipal Electric Association called for the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) to help early Tuesday morning. 68 line workers and other utility workers from thirteen Missouri cities were called out to Florida and will stage support in Jacksonville.
MPUA spokesperson Kerry Cordray said the crews' reports show thousands of customers without power in Jacksonville.
"They are hunkered down. They are actually still waiting at this point to go outside. The conditions are not yet safe for them to go out and start working," he said. “They've had preliminary safety briefings and that sort of stuff. And they're waiting to be cleared to go out and start working in Jacksonville at this point.”
The crews are equipped with more than forty utility work vehicles including bucket trucks, digger/derrick trucks and other equipment. Cordray said they planned on arriving to Florida well before Hurricane Idalia is expected to impact the Florida Gulf Coast. The storm was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane early Tuesday. According to forecasters, Idalia could get to Category 3.
“Their hope is to all get to Jacksonville to the staging place and to be ready to roll as soon as it's safe to do that," he said.
Cordray said the crews will stay in Florida as long as needed or unless called back to Missouri. He said the crews could also potentially be transferred to Tallahassee.
“They are planning to be there and to be dispatched to the Jacksonville area, or other areas as it's appropriate after damages from the storm to help with quicker recovery from any power outages," he added.
The line workers and other utility personnel are from Carthage, Chillicothe, Columbia, Hannibal, Higginsville, Independence, Kennett, Macon, Nixa, Odessa, Palmyra, Poplar Bluff and Springfield. These crews will also be joining a team from Conway Arkansas as well as a team from the MPUA Resource Services Corporation in Columbia.
According to a press release, MPUA brings together about 120 hometown utilities for collective good. Cordray explained it is with the intention to help both local neighbors and national ones. All cities who assist are reimbursed by the municipal utilities receiving the assistance.